Russia celebrates Christmas
Today Orthodox Christians are celebrating Christmas, one of the biggest and most ancient Christian holidays. The main solemn service was held in the Christ the Savior Cathedral by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia on the night from the 6th of January to the 7th.
Christmas is a good reason for giving love, care and attention to surrounding people, Patriarch Kirill said in his televised address. "There must be someone beside you who needs your support. Christmas is a great opportunity to show one's best human qualities and bestow joy and love on people. Even small deeds can make this world kinder and brighter. Anyone can do it, as God is with us," he said.
The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church reiterated that society was always built on the principles of division and called for the fight against these sinful aspects. "Human society was always built on the principles of division: the lucky and the unlucky, the happy and the unhappy, the smart and the narrow-minded, the rich and the poor. This list can be long. We, Christians, understand that the imperfection of the world is the consequence of the sin, so it is necessary to fight against not just the external reason for this illness, but with its internal aspects all the more," patriarch Kirill said.
He highlighted that to Jesus Christ each person is equally valuable, irrespective of his income and social position. "By his birth Christ shows that material conditions are not important to God. He descends to birth in a stable, lying beside animals. He equally accepts simple gifts from poor shepherds and royal gifts from wise men from the east," the patriarch said.
"Let Christmas inspire you to kind deeds, and let the born Savior’s blessing and help be with you in your life. May God keep you safe," the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended an overnight Orthodox Christmas service at the Transfiguration Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. The service was held by the Cathedral’s dean, Nikolai Bryndin. The service was also attended by Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Northwestern Federal District Alexander Gutsan and acting Governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Beglov.
Putin presented the Transfiguration Cathedral with the icon of Christ Pantocrator as a Christmas gift.
Te Russian leader alsocongratulated Orthodox Christians and all Russian citizens celebrating Christmas, the Kremlin press service reported.
"I cordially congratulate you on Christmas. This wonderful holiday gives people joy and hope, unites them around spiritual, moral values, traditions of charity. Folk and family customs passed from generation to generation are connected to it. Sincere faith in good changes and fulfillment of the most cherished desires," the President’s telegram reads.
The President noted that "the Russian Orthodox Church, other Christian denominations play a large, positive role in the life of our country, take care of social harmony, strengthen the institution of the family, educate the youth." They "do a lot to solve pressing social problems, harmonize interethnic and interreligious dialogue." Such fruitful and highly needed work deserves deep gratitude and respect, the President stated.
Putin wished Orthodox Christians, all citizens of Russia, celebrating Christmas, health, success and prosperity.
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.
The holiday was banned in Russia after the revolution of 1917. Christmas became an official holiday in 1991: on December 27, 1990, in response to an appeal by Patriarch Alexy II, the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR declared Christmas a holiday. The resolution came into effect on January 14, 1991.