A highly Orthodox Christmas Day

Posted On January 7, 2007

Filed under News Europe, News Middle East

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It is Christmas Day today for Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was in the village of Istra near Moscow for Midnight Mass. Around two thirds of Russian Christians are members of the Orthodox Church.

In Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus, believers flocked to the Church of the Nativity. Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas joined the congregation. Greek Patriarch, Theofilos the Third presided over ceremonies.

Earlier, an Orthodox Christmas tradition dating back to the Byzantine era took place in Constantinopole, today’s Istanbul in Turkey. His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew I, threw a crucifix into the Bosphorus, and divers raced to retrieve it.

This is a tradition of the Greek and other Orthodox church which on January 6 celebrate the Epiphany or Theophania, the Baptism of Jesus Christ into the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist. These Churches follow the Gregorian calendar.