Russian Orthodox Christmas arrives on Sunday

Posted On January 4, 2007

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The Christmas season is winding down in many homes, but the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is getting under way this weekend at St. Nicholas Orthodox Carpatho-Rusyn Church in Homestead.

Members of that church are among 20,000 Western Pennsylvanians, many from Serbian, Ukrainian and Russian traditions, who follow the orthodox tradition and a different calendar. They celebrate the birth of Jesus this Sunday.

At St. Nicholas, Christmas services begin tomorrow night. The celebration continues throughout the month, a religious time in their tradition.

“We deal with the commercialism on the 25th [December] and the truly religious stuff on the 7th [January],” said Pani Kathleen Buczak, wife of the pastor, the Very Rev. Robert A. Buszak.

Mrs. Buczak said the public is invited to attend the holiday services at the church at 903 Ann St., in Homestead, where some new iconography has recently been completed.

Services begin at 6 p.m. tomorrow with Royal Hours of the Nativity of Our Lord. At 8 a.m. Saturday, the church will celebrate the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, the choir will sing Christmas carols. A nativity vigil service will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Feast of the Nativity, the celebration of Orthodox Christmas, will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Mrs. Buczak said the celebration continues with the Synaxis of the Theotokos at 9 a.m. Monday and the Feast of Proto-Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Synaxis is Greek for “gathering together.” The liturgy on the day following the Nativity of Christ is the Synaxis of the Theotokos.

The church will celebrate New Year on Jan. 14, the feast of the Circumcision of Jesus and Commemoration of St. Basil.

Across the South Hills, other orthodox churches will celebrate Christmas this weekend.

At Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 450 Maxwell St., Whitehall, festivities will begin on Saturday with “Badnje Vece,” or Christmas Eve.

Sunday school children will gather at the church picnic grounds on Hamilton Road at 5:30 p.m. for the traditional cutting of the “Badnjak Tree,” or “Yule Log.”

The tree is placed in a truck and accompanied by a police escort, taken to Holy Trinity Cathedral. During the 10-minute ride, American and Serbian flags are waved and horns are blown to represent angels’ trumpets.

“Everyone along the procession path will know that the Serbian Orthodox people are celebrating Christmas,” said the Rev. Rajko Kosic, parish priest.

At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, there will a blessing of the Yule Log, with a bonfire, home made soup and bread. The Christmas Eve vigil will be held at 9 p.m.

The Divine Liturgy will be at 10 a.m. Sunday, with Christmas carols sung by the Holy Trinity Choir.

Other churches that will hold Christmas liturgies this weekend include:

Ss Peter & Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church on Mansfield Boulevard, Carnegie, will celebrate Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. Saturday and Christmas Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. Sunday. Phone: 412-276-9718.

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church, 185 Knox Ave., McKeesport, will celebrate Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. Saturday and Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. Sunday. Phone: 412-664-0820.