Christ’s birth celebrated in Russia and across the Orthodox world

Midnight liturgy was held through Russia and several other Orthodox countries to mark Christmas according to the Julian calendar

(RT) – Orthodox Christians gathered for Midnight Liturgy in different parts of the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Christians, unlike Catholics, traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 7, which falls on Sunday this year. Believers attend church on Christmas Eve, when the celebration usually starts at around midnight.

The nearly two-week gap between the Catholic and Orthodox observances of Christmas is due to the use of different calendars. The Orthodox Church follows the Julian Calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar – introduced by the Roman Catholic Church in 1582.

The holiday is preceded by a 40-day Nativity Fast, during which believers usually refrain from eating certain foods, including meat and dairy products. The fast ends with the appearance of the first star on the night of Christmas Eve, which is believed to be a symbol of Jesus Christ’s birth.

Take a look at how Orthodox Christmas was celebrated around the world.

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, Russia January 6, 2018. © Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Church of Saints Simeon and Anna in St. Petersburg, Russia January 7, 2018. © Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky / Sputnik
Fireworks near the burning Yule logs in front of the Church of the Holy Mother of God in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, January 6, 2018. © Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Orthodox Christmas traditions vary from country to country. Believers in Bulgaria and Greece, as well as Greek Orthodox Christians in Istanbul, braved freezing water on January 6 as part of the celebration of Epiphany, which celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Christmas in Minsk, Belarus, January 6, 2018.© Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters
Ethiopian Orthodox pilgrims attend a prayer session at the monolithic Orthodox church ahead of Ethiopian Christmas in Lalibela, Ethiopia January 6, 2018. © Tiksa Negeri / Reuters
Greek Orthodox faithful Nikolas Solis, a pilgrim from Greece, in the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey, January 6, 2018. © Murad Sezer / Reuters
People at the Sioni cathedral in Tbilisi, January 6, 2018. © Vano Shlamov / AFP

Worshippers at St. Clement Cathedral in Skopje on January 6, 2018. © Robert Atanasovski / AFP
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