Orthodox Christmas Day

Public and National Holidays in Russia Public Holiday in some Eastern European countries

Russian Orthodox Christmas

Who is off on 6 January 2017?

Montenegro Montenegro
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina (regional)

Who is off on Orthodox Christmas 2017?

Egypt Egypt
Ethiopia Ethiopia
Georgia Georgia
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan
Serbia Serbia
Belarus Belarus
Russia Russia
Ukraine Ukraine
Macedonia Macedonia
Montenegro Montenegro
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina (regional)
Moldova Moldova

Who is off on 8 January 2017?

Serbia Serbia
Montenegro Montenegro
Belarus Belarus
Moldova Moldova

The Orthodox Church recognises 7 January as the day that Jesus was born. Elsewhere in the world, Christmas is celebrated on 25 December.

The difference in the timing of the Christmas celebrations stretches back to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII, ruled that the Catholic Church should follow a new calendar – called the Gregorian calendar, as it was closer to the solar calendar than the Julian calendar.

The Julian calendar had been established by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.

Because it was the catholic pope who ruled on the adoption of the new calendar, many churches not aligned to the papacy ignored it, such as Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox church. Protestants accepted the new calendar in the early 1700s.

In 1922, the patriarch of Constantinople decided that the Gregorian calendar should be followed for the observance of Christmas, but not for Easter, and this edict was followed by many of the other Orthodox churches.

The only Orthodox churches that still observe the 7 January date are the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian churches, the Serbs and the Mount Athos monks in Greece.

Orthodox Christmas in Russia

Despite having the world's biggest Orthodox Christian community, during the period of the Soviet Union, Christmas was effectively banned as it was not offically recognised by the atheist Soviets.

Since its official reinstatement in 1992, the holiday has not proved to be overwhelmingly popular. In fact, many Russians may not celebrate the day at all, while others will just have a small family dinner. Very few Russians will exchange gifts.

The Russian government often gives extras days off around the seventh. This can create a very long holiday when the days are alongside the long New Year's break.

Related Holidays

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