MOSCOW, January 6. / TASS /. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia began the Christmas night service at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
On January 7, Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate one of the most important holidays: the Nativity of Jesus.
Due to the pandemic, health rules and restrictions introduced in spring 2020 continue to apply in churches and monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church, including the mask regime and social distancing.
On January 7, Christmas is celebrated by the Russian, Georgian, Jerusalem, Polish and Serbian Orthodox churches, Athos monasteries in Greece, as well as the Eastern Catholic Church and Old Believers. The Roman Catholic, Protestant, and ten Orthodox churches (including the Church of Antioch, Church of Alexandria, Church of Cyprus, Bulgarian Church and others) mark the date earlier, the 25 December. The reason is that different denominations adhere to different calendars: Julian or Gregorian.
Christmas tradition in Russia
The feast is preceded by a strict 40-day fast, which lasts from November 28 to January 6.
On Christmas Eve, the festive liturgy is served in all churches. At the end of the service, a lighted candle, symbolizing the star of Bethlehem, came out and placed in the middle of the church.
Christmas kicks off a 12-day season commonly referred to as Christmastide or Yuletide. According to Orthodox canons, believers should offer prayers glorifying Jesus Christ. In the folklore tradition, the Christmas period has always been a period of festivities, outdoor games and performances of mimes, divination and Christmas carols.
The Christmas period ends with the feast of Epiphany on January 19.