Tomorrow, January 7, four of the 15 Orthodox churches (Russian, Georgian, Jerusalem and Serbian) are celebrating Christmas. In addition, it is also a holiday for Athos monasteries living according to the Julian calendar, as well as for Catholics of the so-called Eastern rite (for example, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) and some Protestants. The rest of the Christian world, including 11 Orthodox churches that adhere to the New Julian calendar, which coincides with the Gregorian, celebrated Christmas on December 25.
As you know, different dates are explained by different chronology systems (Gregorian and Julian calendars). The Gregorian calendar, according to which most countries of the world now live, including Russia, was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. The reform was explained by the desire to correct the difference between astronomical time and calendar, since it was introduced into use in 46 BC. By the 16th century, the Julian calendar had accumulated a significant error - for every 128 years, one unaccounted day ran up. As a result, in the 16th century, one of the most important Christian holidays, Easter, "came" ahead of schedule.
Therefore, in 1582, a new - Gregorian - calendar appeared in Europe, while in Russia they continued to use the Julian one.
The Gregorian calendar in our country was introduced in 1918, but the Russian Orthodox Church did not approve of this decision and continues to use the Julian calendar. In the 21st century, the difference between dates for two calendars is 13 days. One of the main reasons for this is not at all due to the stubbornness of the Russians, but by the fact that according to the Gregorian calendar, Christian Easter, which is calculated according to the lunar calendar, could be celebrated earlier than the Jewish one, and this, according to the ROC, is absurd. By the way, this is precisely why the calculation of Paschalia by all Local Churches, except for the Finnish Orthodox Church, is conducted today according to the Julian calendar. Catholics ignore this contradiction.
However, it should not be assumed that Russian Orthodox Christians have remained in the minority in their Christmas celebrations. The fact is that the ROC has about 120 million believers, about 8-10 million more are among the Serbs, 4 million Orthodox in Georgia, about 1 million in Poland, and some of them in Greece, Athos and Jerusalem. All together this will amount to 136 million Orthodox Christians who adhere to the old style, while Orthodox believers who celebrate Christmas according to the New Julian calendar - no more than 40 million, or 30% of all Orthodox.
Despite this, the idea of transferring the celebration of the Nativity of Christ from January 7 to December 25 by the Russian Orthodox Church has long been discussed in Russian society.
The well-known pro-government political scientist Sergey Markov at one time even listed 7 reasons why this should be done:
1. Of 15 Orthodox churches, 11 have already switched to December 25th.
2. It is around December 25 that the sun seems to be reborn, turning to rebirth. This is an important day for all nations.
3. Brothers Christians Catholics and Protestants all celebrate December 25th. The transfer of the ROC to December 25 is an important step in the revival of Christian unity.
4. January 7 is an important element of anti-Westernism, the fight against the Vatican. But that was in the past. Now the ROC and the Vatican are allies in the fight against anti-Christianity that has taken over Europe.
5. The date January 7 turned out, as everyone knows, due to the accumulated calendar errors. Error cannot be considered a special virtue forever.
6. January 7 provokes ordinary Orthodox Christians to break the fast. After all, it turns out that New Year, the popular holiday of fun and magic, falls on a strict Christmas fast. So what, without fun and without an abundant table to celebrate the New Year? The New Year turns out like a conflict in the soul. Why make people suffer from pangs of conscience if they are not to blame? It is much better to celebrate the New Year after a strict fast.
7. And on January 6 we will celebrate Epiphany. And on January 7 "old Christmas", like our unique "old New Year" today. The transition of Christmas to December 25 will make Orthodoxy closer to the people and stronger. And Russian Orthodoxy will rejuvenate ...
To which the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church respond as follows:
“Arithmetic does not work in the Church. The majority numbers say nothing. The history of the Church knows moments when only one person embodied the fullness of truth. And the rest fell into heresy..."
On this day, believers celebrate the birth of the Infant Jesus from the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to Christian doctrine, the Son of God was born in Bethlehem. It was here that the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph came to participate in the population census, which was conducted by the king of Judea - Herod the Great. All the hotels in Bethlehem were occupied, so the Holy Family was forced to stay for the night in a cave, a cattle paddock. Here the Baby Jesus was born, the manger became his cradle. As it is sung on these festive days in the temples, the manger became "the repository of the incompatible God." The birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem was predicted by the prophet Micah more than seven centuries before the event itself. The birth of Jesus is described by two evangelists - the apostles Matthew and Luke.
The opinions of historians about the exact date of the Nativity of Christ differ . In modern research, the dates of Jesus' birth are between 12 BC and 12 BC. and 7 AD, when the only known population census was conducted during the described period.
Not a single historian of this period mentioned the fact of the birth of Jesus in his writings. Theologians explain this by the transcendence of the birth of Christ, noting that it surpassed the historical eventuality.
After the October 1917 coup, the persecution of believers and the eradication of religious holidays began in the USSR, and only in 1991 Christmas was returned to the state holiday calendar, and January 7 was declared a day off.
A strict fast lasts forty days before Christmas, and on the eve of the holiday, January 6, on Christmas Eve, it is customary to cook a soothingly traditional dish of boiled wheat or rice with honey, and one should refrain from any other food until Christmas.
Christmas itself is celebrated exactly at midnight from January 6 to 7, at the same time a solemn service begins in the churches.
The time from January 7 to January 18 (before Epiphany Christmas Eve) is called Christmastide, during this period they go to visit and help those in need, as well as carol, that is, they sing songs glorifying Christ and Christmas, going around the courtyards in their village, congratulating everyone, wishing well and joy by collecting gifts in the form of treats.
There should be 12 lenten dishes on the Christmas table - according to the number of the apostles, but after the service, the believers break their fast with meat and fish dishes. The main dish is poultry meat - chicken, goose, duck or turkey.