Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Zeljko Komsic sent to a congratulatory Christmas message to all Orthodox believers in BiH and diaspora.
“Your Eminence, to you and all the Orthodox believers in BiH and the Diaspora I send a congratulatory note on Christmas Day and the great Christmas holiday. In these days of celebration, I want you to be surrounded by family and dear people, not forgetting the values traditionally nurtured in our places. Solidarity, care for each other and respect for different, we need to build a better society for our future generations. Peace of God, Christ is born!,” was stated in the congratulations.
Orthodox Christians in central and eastern Europe and other parts of the world celebrate Christmas on January 7. The Christmas dates around January 7 may vary among some churches. The day is a time of reflection, inner thoughts and healing in many eastern European countries. Many Orthodox Christians fast before January 7.
Christmas Day, on the other hand, is a day for feasting and enjoying the company of friends and family members. The Christmas meal usually includes meat and different types of pastries. One traditional Russian Christmas dish is baked goose with apples.
The type of food and activity may vary depending on the country’s culture and traditions. In some Orthodox Christian cultures, people walk in procession to seas, rivers and lakes as part of the liturgy on the Orthodox Christmas Day. They make holes in the ice to bless the water if it is frozen. Little importance is given to gift exchanges and the commercialized Christmas.
Some Orthodox Christians observe the Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds (those who visited baby Jesus) on January 6, followed by the Adoration of the Magi (three wise men or kings) on January 7. Church liturgies on Orthodox Christmas Eve (January 6) may be longer than usual but many people find them inspiring.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, who many Christians believe is the son of God. His birth date is unknown because there is little information about his early life. The Gospel of St Matthew in the Bible claims he was born during Herod the Great’s reign. Herod, who was a king of Judaea, died in 4 BCE. Many Christians celebrate Jesus’ birthday on December 25 but there are some who hold tradition by observing the date on January 7.
Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of Russia, sailors and children, represents the kind, good, and giving spirit of Christmas. White cloth is used on dinner tables in some countries to symbolize purity and the cloth that baby Jesus was wrapped in. Straw may be placed on these tables to symbolize the simplicity of the place where Jesus was born. Candles may be lit to represent the light of Christ and the festive Christmas meal represents the end of fasting.