Orthodox Christmas in Georgia in 2023

Orthodox Christmas in Georgia in 2023

  How long until Orthodox Christmas?
Orthodox Christmas
  Dates of Orthodox Christmas in Georgia
2023 Georgia Sat, Jan 7 National Holiday
2022 Georgia Fri, Jan 7 National Holiday
2021 Georgia Thu, Jan 7 National Holiday
2020 Georgia Tue, Jan 7 National Holiday
2019 Georgia Mon, Jan 7 National Holiday
  Summary

The Orthodox Church recognises 7 January as the day that Jesus was born

  Orthodox Christmas in other countries
Orthodox Christmas internationally
Related holidays

Orthodox Christmas in Georgia

On the Feast of the Nativity, people, mostly children take to the streets to join a procession called Alilo bringing gifts to the needy. The children sing carols as they march along and are given sweets by adults.

When is Orthodox Christmas?

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

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 now runs 13 days behind, so Orthodox Christmas falls on January 7th—through 2099; in 2100, when the world next omits a leap year, it will move to January 8th.

History of Orthodox Christmas

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 majority of Orthodox believers, including the Russian Orthodox Church, Egyptian Coptics, Ukrainian churches, Serbs, Macedonia, and the Mount Athos monks in Greece, celebrate Christmas on January 7th. The churches in Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Greece mark it on December 25th along with other Christian denominations.

The Armenian Orthodox Church observes Christmas Day on January 6th. This was the original date for Christmas until the 4th century, rather than some Julian/Gregorian adjusted date.

Orthodox Christmas Traditions

At midnight on Christmas Eve, the festive liturgy is served in all churches. At the end of the service, a lighted candle, symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem, is brought out and placed in the middle of the church.

Christmas marks the start of a 12-day season commonly referred to as Christmastide or Yuletide. According to the Orthodox canons, believers should offer prayers glorifying Jesus Christ. In the folk tradition, Christmastide has always been a time of festivities, outdoor games, and performances by mummers, fortune-telling, and caroling.

The Christmas period ends with the feast of the Epiphany on January 19th, which marks the baptism of Jesus Christ.

Chichilaki - the alternative Christmas tree

While a coniferous tree is usually the go-to Christmas centerpiece in many celebrating households around the world, the Georgians have a slightly alternative approach to this symbol.

They display chichilaki — a Christmas tree-like sculpture crafted from the wood of a hazelnut or walnut tree. The wood is shaved in such a way that the finished product is a pretty impressive mop of makeshift branches. The chichilaki is then often decorated with red berries, dried fruits, or churchkhela, a traditional Georgian candy.

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