Article by Proson Cheng
It is almost Christmas time once more. Surely, most of us are anticipating the season with high hopes and inspiration. We are excited to give and receive Christmas gifts, decorate our houses, and celebrate with lots of food. But before we go any further, it may be high time to go back a little and remember Christmas and the main purpose it is being celebrated. There are many stories about the origins of Christmas. However, I find it interesting to talk about Christmas according to the Orthodox Church.
For most of us, the holiday that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ falls on December 25th. However, most Eastern Orthodox Churches extend the celebration to January 7, the day that corresponds the December 25 of the Julian calendar, thirteen days after the Western Christmas.
Christmas for the Orthodox Church is a day of both solemn ritual and joyous celebration. It is also celebrated in a grand fashion where all family members gather to share a special meal on the eve of the celebration. Various foods and customs surrounding this meal differed in Holy Russia from village to village and from family to family, the Christmas Eve fast and meal remains the same all throughout. The fast is usually done until after the evening worship service or until the first star appears followed by dinner where meat is not permitted. The Kutya (kutia) is the primary dish. It is a type of porridge with its ingredients symbolic for hope and honey for the various grains while the poppy seed is for happiness and peace.
The festivities begin once the first star appears in the sky where food is served in an unusually festive and anticipatory manner and style. In this meal, the family gathers around the table to honor the coming of the child Jesus Christ. The Orthodox Church refers to this as the The Holy Supper. An interesting trivia here is that after dinner, no dishes are washed and the Christmas gifts are opened. This is a very interesting way to celebrate Christmas. And just like the Catholic version, Christmas is centered on love, on family, and hope.
About the Author
Proson Cheng is a freelance writer and is eagerly waiting for Christmas to arrive. He mostly loves the season for giving and receiving Christmas Gifts 2009 as it a reflection of showing love to Jesus manifested in showing love to our friends and family.