Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas

Posted On January 7, 2007

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Moscow > Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia led the night Christmas service in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.

About 5,000 people prayed in the cathedral during the service. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, who traditionally attends the patriarch’s Christmas and Easter services, and State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov arrived for the service. Before leaving the cathedral, they presented bouquets of roses to the patriarch.

Among the guests was Vatican diplomatic representative in Russia Archbishop Antonio Mennini. After the service, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia congratulated Christians on the holiday. The main part of the service was broadcast live on Television Channel One and Rossia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the Christmas service in the New Jerusalem Monastery in the city of Istra near Moscow. He arrived there a few minutes before midnight. The president always attends religious services on Christmas and Easter, and as a rule, he chooses churches outside Moscow.

Christmas services were held overnight in all the Russian Orthodox cathedrals that number more than 27,000 all over the world. The holiday is marked on all the continents, including Antarctica. The period of 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany begins this Sunday.

After 1917, Christmas was not celebrated openly in Russia until the 1990s. In 1991, Christmas was officially declared a day off.