our of the world is born!It’s again Christmas! One of the brightest times in the year for all the humanity humanity.Happy Christ Birth! – Merry Christmas! – Chestito Rozhdetvo Hristovo! Hristos se Rodi!
It’s really sad that least of the people do understand the deep meaning behind Christmas or at least have any insight on what has happened on Christmas.
This bright celebration has slowly turned into a tradition that many families keep, Christmas tree has substituted the burning light of Christ living in many of the Christian families throughout the world.
From a time for repentance and realization of the great God’s mercy in his worldly embodiment of himself and begging God for mercy it has changed into a celebration in which people gather to eat and drink a lot, listen to ungodly music, watch TV, concentrate on the Christmas tree, the Christmas gifts or Santa Claus.
Slowly the world has been deceived by the enemy of mankind that Christmas is a celebration that a man has to please himself instead of please God.
Sadly enough most of us are good only on Christmas and few days after the salt of the Christ’s birth and the grace coming with it disappears even to us the Orthodox Christians and worries does penetrate our hearts.
Instead of engraving this light celebration in our hearts and keep the great grace givin to us by God by enabling us to celebrate the feast for one more year, we focus on garments and the cold and meaningless greeting Merry Christmas
In the past when our fathers and mothers were greeting themselves with Merry Christmas they really knew what Merry Christmas means.
This is no more, the time of the year associated with Merry Christmas is by most of us associated with a time of the year where, we have a holiday without work, a time for fashion, shopping and entertainment.
Thus I found it necessary here in this post that I dig a bit into the meaning of Christmas and concentrate on the great importance this feast has in the True Christ Church which nowdays is the Orthodox Church
Let me start with the Etymology of the the word Christmas with whic we the modern “Christian” people greet ourselves on the Nativity of Christ with the known by everybody (even non-christians) Merry Christmas! greeting.
Originally the word Christmas has been a shortening word for the ancient latin word Christmessa / Christmesse / Christmaesse which literally translated means Christ’s festival / Christmas day. The definition can be further investigated in The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology: The Origins of American English Words
Further on let me proceed with the importance of Christmas as they call it on the west or (Rozhdestvo Hristovo – The Birth of Christ) or similar words in the Slavonic world).
Christmas is the second feast by importance in the Orthodox Church year, right after the Orthodox Easter (The feast when we celebrate the Glorious Resurrection from the death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
In fact today is the third day of Christmas. The biggest part of the world already celebrates Christmas time starts after 24:00 o’clock on 24th against 25-th of December.
In the Bulgarian Orthodox Church the Nativity of Christ or (Rojdestvo Hristovo), is currently also celebrated on the the eve of 25th of December.
The Roman Catholics, Anglicans and most of the Protestant Denominations, Calvinists and Protestants reformed churches also celebrate the Christmas even on the night of 24th against 25 of December.
Originally the Christmas in the Eastern Orthodox World has been celebrated for many ages on the eve of 6th against 7th of January.
However for not too much clear reasons (to me) the Christmas date has been changed also to the 25th of December in many Orthodox Churches throughout the world.
Generally speaking each of the local Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas either on 25th of December or the 7th of January.
The celebration of Christmas feast or (Rojdestvo) is not a problem actually for the unity of the Orthodox Church, since it was decided that each of the Orthodox Churches could celebrate Christmas in a set date either to the New Calendar or the Old one (Nov Stil / Star Stil).
The Old style of celebrating the feast is historically the more ancient one and many Orthodox Christians especially monks believe it’s more appropriate, however from a purely rational point of view it is proven by the Gregorian Roman catholic calendar that the way calendar dates are being counted in the Orthodox Church creates a lag of days in for instance 1000 years of time.
I wouldn’t get into details about the difference between the Old Style and the New Style and I’ll let you further investigate if you’re interested.
Nevertheless it’s an absolute rule in our Orthodox Church that Eastern is always on the same date for in all the local Orthodox Churches.
In general the Churches which celebrate the Christmas eve on 25th of Decemberand therefore follow the New feast date Calendar are:
most Greek Orthodox Churches, Romanian Orthodox Church, Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
The orthodox churches which celebrate Christmas eve on the 7th of January are:
Russian Orthodox Church, Serbian Orthodox Church, Armenian Orthodox Church (here to be noted that Armenians are considered close to orthodox but in reality there is no Church Communion recognized between Armenians and the rest of the Canonical Orthodox Churches worldwide), many monasteries and recluses also have their Nativity of Christ feast on 7th of January including the Orthodox monk’s republic Holy Mount Athos
Since nowadays it’s quite of a discussion is it really right to celebrate the feast of Christmas with Roman Catholics and other Christians, which eventually lead many Orthodox local Churches in mini-schizms and many sects has been started like the “old style’s zealots orthodox Christian zealots”
Extremes has ruled out the hearts and the minds of particular Orthodox Christian groups and they consider the acceptance of the New Style of feast celebration as ungodly etc.
Time and reality has proven that this kind of attitudes are not in the spiritu of moderation that we orthodox christians should possess and try to foster and thus many Orthodox Church fathers has openly criticized the extreme of not accepting the new style of feast dates if the local Orthodox Church of the layman has established it already.
I’ll try to say few words on that as far as my understanding goes, as well as I’m gonna put my own personal perspective.
Officially the New Calendar or the New Style of feast dates in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has been officially established in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 18.06.1968 by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Holy Synod.
This has come a few years (I believe) after the same kind of new calendar of some particular church feasts has been introduced by the Greek Orthodox Church.
Some of the firm supporters of the Old Style (Star Stil), claim that this kind of change of the calnedar in the Greek Orthodox Church has happened a while after the Meletius IV has been Ecumenical patriarch in the Orthdox Church, with an argument of his name claimed to be found on a famous Masonry website listing the names of famous members that belonged to their lodge.
I have no clue if this is a mirror or not and to be honest I don’t really believe it’s because of that.
We shouldn’t forget that Christ is the navigator of our Orthodox Church and therefore it’s in his power to decide what kind of direction the Church will, even if the story with the patriarch Masonry is true.
If it wasn’t God’s will for the Greek, Bulgarian and consequently Romanian Orthodox Church to adopt the new style of feast celebration sooner or later God will put a righteous people at the Church’s headship and by his inspiration will make the dates to be reversed!
So I believe this kind of thinking concerning the date of Christmas change to 25th of December and it’s relation with a global conspiracy theories is quite destructive for us as Christians and my personal spiritual life has shown me that this kind of thinking could of masonry conspiracies etc. and the constant attempting to link spiritual and material realm can only bring bipolar disorders, fears, sleepless nights paranoia etc.
So if some orthodox Christian has been very interested into this kind of things I warn you to beware and step back from digging into this kind of information and consult with your spiritual father immediately for an advise and blessing for what is suitable for reading and what not!
The Starostilci (Or Old Stylers Orthodox Christians) unfortunately are one of the Christian sects also in Bulgaria, their supporters and “Church Leaders” does support the insane idea described below and are more and more getting out of their minds. Again beware of this kind of thinking and try to flee away from extremes, concentrate on your personal spiritual life instead of concentrating on legends and rumors!
Apart from that I should confess that the New Style or the new Church calendar adopted in many orthodox churches in practice is creating a lot of problems.
Let me give you a real life example, as of now I’m in Holland and the nearest canonical Orthodox Church is located in Nijmegen is a Russian Orthodox Church. I was not sure just until recently how to proceed with the lent (the Christmas fasting time), should I follow the New Calendar Style festival Church Style (Nov Stil) or do adhere to the (Old One).
As I’m here and attending the Russian Orthodox Church in Nijmegen and as a Russian Orthodox Chrch they’re adhering as the rest of the Russian Church to the Old Church Calendar, it was quite strange for me when should I fast.
In our Bulgarian Orthodox Church where I had been a regularly attending the lent starts a week earlier compared to the Orthodox Churches which adhere to the Star Stil.
Therefore I started following the fasting according to the Bulgarian Church feast days calendar, and according to this calendar the Christmas day or the (Rozhdestvo Hristovo) is on 25th of December.
I followed completely this kind of Nov Stil and apparently found out that according to some Church rules I should in reality adhere to church calendar of the Orthodox Church parish where I’m currently in this situation (to the Russian Orthodox Church.
It was a bit late and it was completely confusing for me as I’ve tried to fast as much as I can to the Bulgarian orthodox Calendar and now after I’ve talked with a hieromonk a friend of mine and he explained me that I should stick to the Russian Church rules and Celebrate Christmas on 7th of January.
I’ve never in my life to be honest celebrated Christmas on 7th of January and actually I tried to celebrate it already on 25th and this makes it this whole situation even more stranger and confusing, not to mention that I’ve already stpoped fasting (olazhih se) as we say in Bulgarian.
Now after Father Sergii’s consultation I’ve been given the advise to continue without fasting until Christmas and after Christmas to fast for a week and Celebrate Christmas on 7th of January so I’ll try my best to follow this advise.
Still I believe this literal example shows up some of the difficulties and division that this calendar differences within some Orthodox Churches actually seperates the Orthodox Church local life and distracts the Church unity.
Anyways enough complatining, back to the topic It’s Christmas time! Our Lord has been born from the Holy Theotokos (Virgin Mary)! We’re blessed to celebrate one more Christmas!
I wish all my readers to rediscover the meaning of the feast Nativity of Christ to focus on their prayer life and the spiritual instead of being deceived and look on the material expression and shiness of Christmas which distracts the soul from being able to absorb God’s abundant grace given on us in this graceful times to us the Orthodox Christians.
I also wish you have a good health, joy, peace and a moderate New-Year time!
I hope God will open my heart and mind to understand the real meaning of this sacred celebration and to really value it and rejoice!
Sadly enough I haven’t been enough vigilant to rejoice in this Christmas time and allowed personal worries to distract the joy of our Saviour Birth.
Do not let the same happen to you, rejoice in God and put aware the worldly worries!
For conclusion I end up with this wonderful deaply meaningful Macedonian Serbian Christmas Orthodox song:
I’ll close the article by giving Glory to our God, Glory be to Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit now and Forever and ever! Amen!