Orthodox believers celebrate Christmas
Orthodox Christians in Russia and other countries around the world are celebrating Christmas on January 7, an event which 2017 years ago marked the beginning of the new history of mankind, TASS reports.
Christians conclude a four-week fast during which they confess their sins and receive communion. And on Christmas Eve they have special fasting, "until the first star," in memory of how the Magi came first to the birthplace of Christ following the movement of the star in the sky. At present, a candle in front of the altar, which is lit at the end of the Christmas Eve service at about noon, symbolizes the star.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia recited Christmas Eve liturgy at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. In his traditional televised Christmas address Patriarch Kirill said that love was the main principle of the God’s Creation.
"Love is the key principle of the Creation and therefore its denial leads to an inevitable self-destruction," he said. "Unfortunately, today the strength of the invisible bounds of love weakened and the self-sacrificing love of not to God only, but to each other, turns into a rarity."
"By ignoring the God’s commandment, people are trying to come up with their own system of values, which unfortunately has no place for the real love, as well as no place for self-sacrifice and faith," Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said. "Such system leads to destruction of families, the society and the government."
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was among the worshippers attending the Christmas service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral. President Vladimir Putin attended the Christmas service at the Church of Saints Simeon and Anna in Saint Petersburg.
The festive Christmas service recalls the great event that marked the beginning of a new era for mankind. At the moment of birth of Godman God's grace touched every person, every family line, and from that time the person has the opportunity to accept the gift.
Russia’s main Orthodox cathedral, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, built to commemorate the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812, is dedicated to the biblical birth of Jesus, since on this very day, December 25 of the older Julian calendar, the last soldier of the Napoleon army left Russia. For the first time ever, the Christmas Eve service was held with open Holy Doors to symbolize the openness of God’s word for all.
The Russian Orthodox Church today has more than 36,000 churches and 900 monasteries in almost 70 countries. Religious services are conducted during the night and in the morning in all Orthodox churches on all continents.
January 7 is also Christmas day for Orthodox Christians in Serbia, Jerusalem, Georgia, and the monastic community of Mount Athos in Greece, one of Orthodox Christianity's holiest sites. January 7 is a national holiday in Russia along with Belarus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia.