Being a part of the Orthodox world I would like to tell you, Esteemed Readers, about one of our main tradition, that’s Christmas we celebrate on the 7th of January. They say that this difference appeared due to various calendars the Orthodox & the Catholics use. However I heard another point of view: it was the 7th January when news about Christ’s birth reached the Orthodox lands & it became the celebration afterwards. Not all the Orthodox churches, though, follow this tradition. The Greeks, for example, celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December.
The Orthodox culture perceives Christmas in its own way: it is regarded as a mysterious time when Christians reconcile with God. It also means Christ’s future Atonement. Before the celebration there is a severe 40 days Lent. Christmas Eve has an interesting interpretation too: it’s believed that that very night all Good & Evil that exist inside of us come out & the force that is leading our Soul brings us either to celebrate the rebirth of Light or the Feast of Evil. The traditional folklore is full of stories telling about men’s fight against evil spirits that very night. I must admit that most of them are really spooky.
On Christmas Eve sochivo, a traditional meal made from boiled wheat or rice with honey is cooked. People avoid other kind of food until the midnight, when it’s believed that the Bethlehem star appears in the sky. Churches arrange glorious liturgies lasting until the 19th of January, that is the Orthodox Epiphany. This period is called ‘Svyatki‘. It’s time when traditionally people make visits, help the poor, sing Christmas Carols & tell fortune. The last tradition is very popular even at present. Telling fortunes by wax is the most common way to learn what the new year prepares for us. Amazingly, it always comes true. The process is very simple: you prepare a bowl with cold water, light a candle, – the church one would be the best, – make a wish or ask a question and then drop melting wax into the bowl. Images you will see are answers. We usually use a dream book to read their meanings.
No matter what tradition you belong to, Esteemed Readers, Merry Christmas! And I hope the waxing will tell you only good things!