Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas
19:45 Wed 07 Jan 2009 - Rene Beekman
Amidst the natural gas crisis, Orthodox Christians in Jerusalem,
Russia, Serbia, Georgia, Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, and the
Ukraine, among others, celebrated Christmas on January 7, following
to the Julian calendar.
According to Reuters, because of the gas crisis between Russia and
Ukraine, in the Balkans, people celebrated Orthodox Christmas in
churches lit by candles and scrambled to find alternative sources of
heat for their homes.
Reuters quoted Serbian officials as saying they had no more natural
gas reserves and that tens of thousands of people were without
heating when most were at home to celebrate Orthodox Christmas.
Serbian Orthodox Church leader His Holiness Patriarch Pavle warned in
his Christmas message that the world economic crisis is a result of
hidden spiritual and moral crisis, Serbian broadcaster B92 said.
"It is true that the economic crisis is tied to the political crisis,
and that the lack of respect for international law and ignoring the
United Nations human rights charter have given birth to the political
crisis, as well as this economic crisis and financial chaos," B92
quoted Patriarch Pavle as saying.
Patriarch Pavle issued a special greeting to Serb Christians in
Kosovo and Metohija, B92 said.
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev congratulated Russians on Orthodox
Christmas, Russian news agency RIA Novosti said.
"Over many centuries this festival has given people the unfailing
light of faith, hope and love. Christmas festivities bring
conciliation, good intentions, mercy and mutual respect into our
lives," RIA Novosti quoted a Kremlin media statement.
Christmas services at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in central
Moscow were led by Metropolitan Kirill, interim leader of the Russian
Orthodox Church since the death of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
Alexy II in December.
Head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church HH Stefan conducted the main
liturgy at Skopje Church St. Kliment Ohridski, Macedonian news agency
The Head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Ohrid and
Macedonia HH Stefan sent out a Christmas message for peace and God's
blessing to Orthodox believers, Mina news agency said.
Orthodox churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Greece,
Cyprus, Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria adopted the New Julian Calendar
in 1923 (though Bulgaria only in 1963), which synchronised Orthodox
holidays with the Gregorian calendar that was in general use.
In these countries, Christmas is celebrated on December 25.