The 7th Of January Is Orthodox Christmas: How Will You Celebrate?

Dear friends,

The 7th of January is Christmas on the Orthodox calendar, and you may choose to celebrate with your orthodox brethren. Today I will explain how you may celebrate in the orthodox tradition, and you must ensure you have followed each tradition listed.

There are some lovely things you may do over the holiday in Russia and Ukraine, and these items will connect you with the Russian and Ukrainian culture in a new way. Although the Orthodox Christmas has passed, it is necessary and worth to write about it.

#1: Who Celebrates Orthodox Christmas?

Eastern European countries (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) often celebrate Orthodox Christmas as they fall under the umbrella of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The church is an off-shoot of the Catholic Church with its own Pope, church calendar and set of beliefs.

orthodox christmas

You may know Eastern European families that celebrate the holiday, and they reach into countries such as Turkey, Georgia and Armenia. There are Egyptian Christians who are Orthodox, and there are also Greeks who follow the Orthodox tradition.

#2: How Is The Date Determined?

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas eve on January 6th, and they celebrate Christmas day on January 7th. The Christmas eve services have their own liturgy, and families often return on Christmas for a service that is quite different. You may attend an orthodox church if you like for the holiday, and you will enjoy learning how these churches complete a service that is quite different from Catholicism or Protestantism.

#3: What Are The Services Like?

Christmas Eve has a supper of twelve meals that are there is pay tribute to each of the twelve apostles, and the Royal Hours and Vespers are performed at church on the same day. The Orthodox church has a long tradition of music, and it performs some of the finest musical pieces in any tradition.

Families will arrive at church hoping to hear the music they have grown up with, and there are many eastern musical elements in the services. They sound a bit different from what is traditional, and they sound as though the church has been transported back to the time of Jesus’ birth.

The Christmas Day services have their own music and liturgy. Russian and Ukrainian families file in for the service at the appointed time, and they go through a special service for the morning before returning home. Families that wish to have the full experience may attend both Christmas eve and Christmas day services.

Christmas service at Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra / January 6, 2017 (in Russian and Ukrainian):

#4: The All Night Vigil

The All Night Vigil is a special service that runs during the evening of Christmas eve. It goes into Christmas day, and families may stay through the night if they are quite devout. The choice is the family’s, and they may spend as much time as they like in the church over those two days.

#5: The Foods

The tradition of food in the Eastern Orthodox Church is quite massive, and the families make their twelve dishes on Christmas eve to honor the apostles who would live with Jesus in his final days. The families may prepare to meals in a number of different ways, and they are free to serve them at any time. The number is important to the church, and the families may have an order they prefer to follow when serving the meals.

Orthodox Christmas Food

The meals may start with soup or milk dishes that are quite warm as the winters are cold in these countries, and the meals continue with everything from a cranberry kisiel to cheese dishes and borscht. Each new dish is brought to share the life and time of an apostle, and the family may vary widely given their own tradition.

The Orthodox church may hold the twelve meals in the church building, and they will help every family enjoy and appreciate the food that is to be served. Other meals for the twelve suppers include:

  • Herring
  • Carp
  • Pike
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Dumplings
  • Fruit compote
  • Donuts and jam

#6: Why Is The Holiday Unique?

The Eastern Orthodox Christmas is unique in that it has quite a lot of liturgy surrounding is that you will not see when you are in traditional churches. You must ensure you have taken a look at the way the church celebrates the holiday as you may add some of it to your own plate.

Allow the ways of Russia and Ukraine to influence you in some way, and you will feel the fullness of Jesus in you as you are using more of what was intended for God’s people to celebrate.

Russian women celebrating Christmas

You may be unfamiliar with the holiday as it is constructed in the east, and you may begin your study of the holiday at any time. Ukrainian and Russian ladies will appreciate the work you have put into celebrating as the eastern church does, and you will get a taste of what it is like to live in their tradition.

They do things differently than those in the west, and their tradition has been brought to the west by immigrants many times over. You may visit a Russian and UKrainian church in your home country, or you may make the twelve meals at home to enjoy with your Ukrainian wife on the eve.

Learn more about Ukrainian and Russian culture:

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Questions? Feel free to ask Krystyna, your Ukrainian dating expert 🙂 (s. here: Contact Krystyna)



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