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31.12.2013.

Why do we celebrate Christmas on January 7th?

While most of the Christian world celebrates the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ on December 25th, members of our Serbian Orthodox Church commemorate this Great and Holy Day on January the 7th each year! The reason for this difference is that, our Church still maintains the old Julian calendar for the designation of its holidays.

This Calendar was introduced by Julius Ceasar in 46 B.C. and consisted of 365 days in each year, except the fourth year, leap year, which had 366 days.

A learned astronomer, Luigi Lilio Ghiraldi, who lived in the 16th century, contended that the Julian calendar was in error as it supposes the year too long by 11 minutes and 14 seconds, which amounts to one day in 128 years. In order to correct this, Pope Gregory XIII issued a brief in 1582 abolishing the old (original) Julian Calendar, and substituted Ghiraldi’s system of reckoning time. October the 5th 1582, was called October 18th 1582, thus dropping 13 days. The difference between the two calendars increased by one day every 1,000 years. This “New Style” calendar is also known as the “Gregorian Calendar”!

The holiday of Christmas is in reality celebrated by every Christian on December 25th, but when it is December 25th according to the “Old Style”, it is January, 7th, according to the “New Style”!

The Julian calendar is still in use by the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the past several years the Greek Orthodox Church has adapted to the Gregorian calendar for celebrating Christmas, but it maintains the Julian Calendar for the celebration of Easter.

Without looking at who is right or wrong, Eastern Orthodox Christians must celebrate Christmas on January 7th (New Style) until changes are made, if they are ever made. Remember that, discussion regarding the calendar is a question for the Church to settle, not the individual!

 


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