We all do love Christmas! As we all know, we love Christmas day because it is the time that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We do celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December but maybe some of us are not aware that Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day on the 7th of January.
Background on the Orthodox Christmas Day
In the United States alone, there are Orthodox Christians who follows the traditional Julian calendar which states that Christmas day falls on the 25th of December but when we look at it in our modern calendar this date actually falls on the 7th of January. The Julian calendar is the first calendar which was used before the Gregorian calendar or our modern calendar.
What Do People Do?
Orthodox Christians do practice the ritual of fasting before Christmas day and this is called “nativity fast”. This ritual is believed to be the preparation to celebrate the coming or birth of Jesus Christ. They do believe that through fasting, they can focus more on their faith and good will instead of worrying about food and what to eat.
Although the Orthodox Christmas day is not a public holiday in the United States, traffic jam and full parking is expected in Orthodox Christian Churches on this day.
Orthodox Christians fast before January 7 or their Orthodox Christmas day but when the 7th of January comes, a bountiful feast is shared among family and friends. Their food maybe different from the usual Christmas feast that we have on our tables such as seasoned ham and pasta. Orthodox Christians do serve the following food on the 7th of January: slow cooked kidney beans with potatoes, bowl of honey, baked cod, mushroom soup, Lenten bread, vegetables and Bobal’ki or small biscuits with sauerkraut.
Other countries that celebrate Orthodox Christmas Day:
In the US, Orthodox Christmas Day is not a public holiday but in the following countries, this day is celebrated and recognized as a public holiday:
Saint Nick is still the sought after saint on the Orthodox Christmas Day and he is still the representation of kindness, sharing and the spirit of Christmas. White cloth is used on the Christmas table as a sign of purity. Lighting of candles are done to symbolize the light of Jesus as He guides us in our lives from the day of His birth. Straws may also be placed on the feast table to remind us of the simplicity of Jesus’ birth on the manger. Finally the bountiful Christmas meal is a mark that the fasting has officially ended.
What to Gift on Orthodox Christmas Day?
Since the Orthodox Christians do celebrate Christmas on a different day and the simplest way possible, it would be better to keep your gift on a minimalist side and be humble enough to respect their faith and their celebration. Check out our top finds of Orthodox Christmas gift items that you can surprise your friends or relatives with who would celebrate Christmas day on the 7th of January.
- Family Devotional. The family that prays together stays together, to keep the family’s bond intact through faith, let this family devotional be an instrument.
- Saint Nicholas Icon. Let this St Nicholas icon be your guide in remembering the patron saint of Christmas and be reminded of the real spirit of Christmas that we celebrate joyfully.
- Nicholas Bundle. This bundle includes handmade items that commemorates the goodness of St. Nick which includes: postcards, Ukranian Bishop cookie cutter, St. Nicholas cookie recipe card, children’s books that tells the significance of Christmas day and fifteen milk chocolates shaped in coins that are wrapped in gold foil.
- Daily Meditations Book. This would be a great spiritual companion on the great advent fast before the celebration of Christmas day.
- Snowflake Porcelain Ornament. This is a one of a kind ornament that features a Greek Orthodox chapel.
- ДИВНА / Beautiful: Anthology. This is a great musical background that celebrates the spirit of Christmas.
- Red Pysanka Egg. This is a traditional Ukranian gift on Orthodox Christmas day.
- Two toned Orthodox Cross necklace. This necklace is a sophisticated looking necklace that can be worn at any occasion it may entail, plus it features an Orthodox cross to celebrate one’s faith.
- Gypsum Coins Display. This would be a great gift idea for your friend or special someone who likes to collect coins specially if they have great significance such as this collection of Ukranian Orthodox Christians gypsum coins.