Sorry for the delayed post. Both of us were really busy these days with works and exams, but now we are back on it :).
In today’s Blogmas we will touch a topic and probably answer a lot of fundamental questions about Christmas. Or to be more specific about the differences between the Orthodox and Catholic Christmas.
The first and biggest difference in the Christmas celebration comes from the difference in the calenders both of the churches use. The majority of the Orthodox churches worldwide use the Julian calendar, created under the reign of Julius Caesar in 45 BC, and have not adopted the Gregorian calendar, proposed by Latin Pope Gregory of Rome in 1582m which is used by the Catholics.
December 25 on the Julian calendar actually falls on January 7 on the Gregorian calendar. So strictly speaking, Christmas is still kept on December 25, which just happens to fall 13 days later on the Julian calendar. So basically for Catholics Christmas Eve and Christmas are on 24th and 25th December and for Orthodox – 6th and 7th January.
Also, there are Orthodox Christians who have adopted the Gregorian calendar. For them, Christmas falls on December 25th.
Another difference is the fest that is celebrated on January 6th according to the Gregorian calendar and respectively 19th according to the Julian calendar. The holiday is known as Epiphany, Theophany or Three Kings’ Day. One this day the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ is celebrated.
In Catholic Christianity, the feast commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Orthodox Christians, on the other hand, commemorate the baptism of Jesus on both sides of the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.
Another difference is the way the holiday is perceived. While for Catholics the focus is on the emotional part – spreading good will and joy, for the Orthodox Christmas is more spiritual focused on the holy day itself. They refer more to the birth of Christ and the salvation that the event has for all of humanity, and it is less sentimental than Christmas in the West.
Of course, we should mention all of the similarities like the Advent and the 40 Days fast (Nativity Fast) – the preparations (different customs) before Christmas that Catholics and Orthodox do. As well as the Christmas trees, the lights and decorations, the presents and ribbons.
For both of the directions of Christianity, no matter when exactly, this is the biggest and the holiest feast of the year. A day in which the whole family is gathered to celebrate the birth of the God’s child, the miracles and love.
Joy. Happiness. Love.