Today is third day of Nativity and as this year I'm celebrating Christmas feast with Serbian and Orthodox Church feast, it is also the 3rd day of Christ's birth for me too 🙂
On 6-th against 7-th January eve Nativity is celebrated in following nation wide Orthodox Church patriarchates:
Russian Orthodox Church
Serbian Orthodox Church
Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem (Patriarchate of Jerusalem)
Moldovan Orthodox Church
I'm eager to find as much as possible, about the Orthodox Church worldwide. So I took the time to collect the Church Hymns (Troparions and Kondaktions) which are sung in each of patriarchate Churches celebrating on 6th against 7th. Hopefully my little article will help other Orthodox Christians who want to know more how other nation-wide "sister" Orthodox Churches are celebrating Nativity's feast, as well as hear the identical Orthodox Church hymn performed in other languages.
An Arabic Christmas Carol (Byzantine Hymn of the Nativity) – Nativity Troparion in Syriac (Arabic)language
Byzantine Hymn for Nativity (in Arabic) ØªØ±ØªÙŠÙ„ Ø¨ÙŠØ²Ù†Ø·ÙŠ Ù„Ù„Ù…ÙŠÙ„Ø§Ø¯ Ø§Ù„Ù…Ø¬ÙŠØ¯
There are some other Christians part of the Oriental Orthodox Christian Churches celebrating Christmas on 6-th against 7-th of January, those who I know of are;
Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Armenian Apostolic Church
Ethiopian Orthodox Church (under the patriarchate of Coptic Church of Alexandria)
This two Churches areclose to Eastern Orthodox Church in teaching, but are not in official eucharistic communion. Probably there are also other Christian Churches celebrating on 6-th against 7-th of January and maybe I'm missing some Orthodox Church. I personally know a person from the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Lets hope by the prayers of the Holy Theotokos Virgin Mary and all saints, soon the Oriental Orthodox Churches will come back and recognize decisions taken by Holy Fathers on 7 Orthodox Church ecumenical councils and then we all joyful sing together united in the faith of the Holy Apostles our Lord Jesus Christ's Nativity hymn !
If you happen to be reading my post and you belong to another Orthodox Church patriarchate I forgot to mention or don't know about, please drop a comment to which Church you belong and put a link to your Church sung Troparion and Kontakion. Let us together rejoice with the joy of Angels and the wise East Magis who came to venerate the birth of King of Kings with gifts and gold.
Troparion (Tone 4) Your Nativity, O Christ our God, Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom! For by it, those who worshipped the stars, Were taught by a Star to adore You, The Sun of Righteousness, And to know You, the Orient from on High. O Lord, glory to You!
Kontakion (Tone 3) Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One! Angels with shepherds glorify Him! The wise men journey with a star! Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!
I'm in Holland and here the closest place to Arnhem where Orthodox Holy Liturgy is served is in Nijmegen. I go every Sunday on Church taking the train from Arnhem to Nijmegen – the whole trip takes 15 to 20 minutes .One Sunday, I go to Russian Orthodox Church, and one Sunday to Serbian Orthodox Church. As a rule of thumb for us Orthodox, if we attend Orthodox Church different from your nation wide (autocephalous) Orthodox Church, the person who takes part in prayer and Eucharist communion with the respective Church should celebrate the Church feasts according to the respective Orthodox Church calendar (in my case Russian and Serbian Orthodox Church) calendar. Both Russian and Serbian Church are following the so called Old Church Calendar, where in my national Church the Bulgarian Orthodox Church just like Greeks, we follow the "New feasts Church Calendar". The difference between the two calendars is 13 days in some of the feasts, meaning Orthodox Churches which still observe the Old Church Calendar have some of the feasts like Nativity 13 days later.
Thus this, year I celebrate Nativity (Ð Ð¾Ð¶Ð´ÐµÑÑ‚Ð²Ð¾ Ð¥Ñ€Ð¸ÑÑ‚Ð¾Ð²Ð¾ – as we say in Bulgarian following the Old Church Calendar today on 6-th against 7-th January Eve.
In Nijmegen, there will be no midnight (Ð¿Ð¾Ð»ÑƒÐ½Ð¾Ñ‰Ð½Ð¸Ñ†Ð°) Holy Liturgy, but instead on Sunday Morning, there was a Holy Liturgy in which we celebrated the feast of Nativity of the Lord Lord Jesus Christ and at the end of Church service we greeted each other with the joyful salute Christ is born – Truly he is Born!
It was a joyful service leaded by the hieromonk priest father Dushan, who is in charge of Nijmegen's, Amsterdam and Breda Westen Europe Serbian eparchy .
The Serbian Church here in Holland are blessed to have for veneration holy relics of saints:
st. Zosima (Tumane)
saint Nektarios of Aegina
venerable Dena (ikoki)
saint Tsar Urosh
saint Paraskeva (the Bulgarian / of the Balkans)
saint Nikolaj Srbskij (Velimirovich)
Serbs are very good people and everytime I go to Serbian Church, I'm warmly accepted as true brother in Christ, this time it was no different.
It was a triple feast for me as I both celebrated the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, received the Holy Sacraments and venerated the Holy relics of this Great Saints.
In Serbian Church have, the same pious tradition like in our Bulgarian Orthodox to great each other with the Nativity (Rojdenski) Church Greeting – Ð¥Ñ€Ð¸ÑÑ‚Ð¾Ñ ÑÐµ Ð Ð¾Ð´Ð¸ – Ð’Ð¾Ð¸ÑÑ‚Ð¸Ð½Ñƒ ÑÐµ Ð Ð¾Ð´Ð¸ / Christ is born – Truly he is Born!
In Serbian Christmas is called Bozec / Badni Dan (Yule-log tree day), very similar to the Bulgarian Ð‘ÑŠÐ´Ð½Ð° Ð’ÐµÑ‡ÐµÑ€ / Badna Vecher (Yule-log tree night).
As I'm a bit keen on learning Serbian, I've found a video in youtube re-telling the story around the miracles surrounding the birth of the King of Kings the Lord Jesus Christ:
Ð’ÐµÑ€ÑÐºÐ¸ ÐºÐ°Ð»ÐµÐ½Ð´Ð°Ñ€ – Ð‘Ð¾Ð¶Ð¸Ñ› / Religious calendar – Christmas- The story of Christ birth as told in Serbian Language
Here is the Serbian Church Troparion for the day Rojdestvo tvoe:
In Serbia Christmas is known as Bozic, often written in latin as Serbs tend to write nowadays mainly in Latin, Cyrillic however is still in wide use mainly in Serbian Church. Mentioning cyrillic I should say, Serbian is in maybe 60 / 70% similar or same in words as Bulgarian language as we are brother nations, and plus the Holy Liturgy service is in Church Slavonic so I understood about 80 to 90% of all the service with no problem. Also speaking with Serbians is very easy, if I speak a simplified version of Bulgarian and they speak simple Serbian – our languages are almost identical. A Situation with Serbian and Bulgarian is very much like here Holland with German language.
There were few things in the Church, which was new for me. A native Serbian Church tradition is they bring haystacks in the Church as a remembrance for Christ being born among the hay in the manger.
Also one other local tradition which is not in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and not in Russian Orthodox Church is bringing the yule-log tree trunk in the Church. In Bulgaria we also put Christmas, new year tree but not the cut trunk of it.
It was very joyful, the whole Church was full of people from ex-Yugoslavia – Serbia, Bosnia & Hertzegovina and Macedonia. The biggest joy was the plenty of children and new-borns from age around 1 year to age 7 – 10 years. There were also plenty of teenagers and people in their 20 – 30s, something I've rarely seen in Bulgaria. The fact that the Church service was all attended by Emigrants and the fact serbians help each other so much while living abroad is something that makes me rejoice, the only thing I don't understand and (pray it change) is why we Bulgarians are united like this?
At the end of the Church service, there was something I liked very much too. The little kids in the Church were invited to come to the piles of hay on the ground sitting behind the icons, and told there are candies hidden in the hay 🙂 The kids started seeking through the straws finding chocolates in different forms joying. The idea of this entertainment "game" was great, as it makes children feel at home in the Church and by doing so Serbs teach their children to love the Holy Church and by this are little by little raising the next generation of devoted Serbian Orthodox Christians. I never saw in Bulgarian Orthodox Church, any activity in our Church like this, so I think maybe if our Church organizes something like this on Christmas it will be very good for both Bulgarian Orthodox parents and kids.
To make the Church joy complete, at the end of the Church service, all the layman were invited for a cup of coffee, tea and quick fasting meal. 6-th against 7-th of January is the last day of the Nativity fasting in the Church and since the fasting is over early on 7-th morning after the night vigil and morning holy liturgy all food in the little kitchen of the Byzantine Building ( Chapel ) was fasting.
People from Church has prepared a very taste food, many of which in type was very similar to the food we eat in Bulgaria during fasting and Nativity.
Other thing impressed me in Church, was the attitude of the woman, most of them were very concerned about man, and they leave nothing in the kitchen to be done by man, they served food etc. Somehow it seemed to me that Serbian ladies acted like true ladies, taking care for all the kitchen work, serving doing their best to make the man feel comfortable, something that is still evident in less developed economy nations like India, Pakistan etc. This kind of woman attitude is very hard to be seen nowadays in almost all around the world, including Bulgaria, so salutes for the good Serb woman 🙂
Just like us Bulgarians, Serbs also have Rakia as a traditional alcoholic beverage. This time they had a Serbian tea (as they call it) a mixture of hot tea and good quality rakia 🙂 – I rarely drink alcohol these days but this "Serbian tea" I liked very much. Among the food, there was the traditional wrapped rice in cabbage leaves, peppers filled with rise, own baked loaf (pitka), some very delicious meal combining something like boiled potatoes with mushrooms and some vegetables inside looking a bit like the Bulgarian Banica.
It is like a Church tradition, here in the West Orthodox Churches, to eat together after the end of Holy Liturgy. In the Holy Trinity Church in Dobrich, sometimes we do this as well but not every time like here in West. Eating together with the brothers and sisters from the Church makes the Church experience complete and is a symbolic continuation of communion after the true communion receiving the Holy Blood and Holy Flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Eucharist.
Yesterday for few hours on our way back from Shipchenski Monastery, we went through Kabile Monastery (a nun monastery located 6 kilometers from Yambol Bulgaria and just 1 km away from the nearest village Kabile. According to Church tradition in V-th century during the reign of Byzantine emperor Constantine on the same place used to a huge early Christian cloister
Also according to local Church tradition, st. Helena (Elena) – the Mother of Emperor Constantine regularly sent her servents to take Holy Water from the Monastic Holy Spring. Even in the ancient times of existence the monastery is very probably the monastery was inhabited by nuns. It is known the monastery continued its existence until the falling of Bulgaria under Ottoman Turkish 5 centuries (yoke) Slavery.
According to some annalist saint Bulgarian patriarch Evtimiy of Tarnovo (the last bulgarian Church autonomous patriarch before the fall of Bulgaria under the Turkish yoke) passed through Kabile cloister during his exile by Turkish sultan in Bachkovo Monastery. Tradition says Turkish soldiers believed there is a hidden treasure somewhere in the monastery(the monasteries at 12th, 13th century was rich and often contained many treasures). Because invaders couldn’t find any precious stones or hidden gold inside monastery Turkish soldiers decided to burn down the monastery to the ground and buried the holy (healing water) spring.
Onwards for many centuries the monastic holy land was deserted, but locals from generation to generation kept the memory of the once great monatery alive. The consequential story on how the monatery was restored is quite long. A short version of the history goes like this. /> In year 1919, God appeared in a vision to old village lady Maria and told her where she has to dig to find the centuries “hidden” holy spring. In the vision the lady was told the monastic holy spring will be for restoration and healing of multitudes of people suffering from all kind of diseases. The news about the re-finding of the Holy Spring, spread in the whole region and people started coming to drink from the Holy Spring to cure themselves from all kind of incurable diseases. The field where the monastery nowdays is was donated soon after by its owner Stoian Ganev
By God’s providence in period 1919 – 1945, the monastery was rebuilt. The monastery was restored thanks to big efforts of Georgi Nikolov (a humble Christian) who travelled continously for years from village to village in Yambol and Sliven region collecting donations for rebuilding.
Kabile Monastic Yard
The monastery official name is Birth (Nativity) of Holy Theotokos Virgin Marry (Rojdestvo Bogorodichno) and currently is inhabited by 7 nuns. In the monastery there is a regular everyday morning and evening prayer service, a holy liturgy is served every Sunday. Similar to ancient times, the monastery has a special baptizmal chamber. Many people choose to baptize there children as a blessing in there. Abbot of the Monastery in present times is the lady Minodora.
The little “spiritual desert” of The Nativity of Theotokos is great place for anyone looking for a silent place for pilgrimage to spend some time in solitude and prayer to the Lord God.
Here are few pictures from the monastery, I didn’t bring a camera with me hence I hold no copyright over pictures (copyright belong to there respective authors):
Kabile Nun Monastery (Bulgaria) – Healing Spring water photo
Inside the little Church of Kabile Monastery
Thanks be to God for all his kindness in showing me this nice spiritual place 🙂
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