Russia Celebrates Orthodox Christmas

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It’s a joyous occasion in Russia. Orthodox Christians all over the country marked their Christmas with a mass and celebration, starting on Wednesday evening.

In Russia, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the Catholic Christmas. Orthodox Christians all over the country observed Christmas Eve on Wednesday and early Thursday morning.

[Tamara, Parishioner]: (Female, Russian)
"Christmas is a great celebration for all orthodox Christians. It's renewal, it's good, beauty and hope for a light future."

Mass began late on Wednesday evening. In Moscow, more than 800 churches held mass. And millions of people attended mass all over the country.

[Yekaterina, Parishioner]: (Female, Russian)
“As usual we are expecting only the best in the year to come. You always have hopes. You always think the life will be better."

According to Russian Orthodox tradition, Christmas is first observed with an evening mass, and then the celebration with family and friends occurs the following day. The mass lasts for several hours. Orthodox midnight mass concludes a four-week fast.

The Russian, Georgian Orthodox, Serbian and Jerusalem churches, Athos monasteries, some Protestants and some Catholics celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the Julian calendar.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian Orthodox Church decided to follow the old Julian calendar, which lags almost two weeks behind the new Gregorian calendar of all other Christians.

After the 1917 revolution, Christmas was banned in Russia. But Russians started to celebrate Christmas again only years later, with the break-up of the Soviet Union.

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