Orthodox Christians to celebrate Christmas on “Western” date

Eureka’s Orthodox Christian community will return to the roots by celebrating in St. Innocent Church, 939 F Street, at 10 p.m. December 24, the Divine Liturgy written by Saint John Chrysostom.

"Christmas was first introduced as a feast to be observed with the winter solstice by Saint John Chrysostom," explains the Rev. Laurent Cleenewerck, Rector of Saint Innocent’s. "This was in 386 during his ministry at Antioch, in what is now modern-day Turkey. Before that, Christmas was observed on the same day as Theophany (or Epiphany), January 6 in our modern calendar, or simply ignored as a minor day."

"We are not observing Christmas on January 7 - often called ‘Russian Christmas’ - as some expect," continues Cleenewerck, "because Orthodox Christians in North America have generally adopted the Gregorian calendar for this season."

"The Mystery of Giving" will be the theme of Rev. Cleenewerck’s sermon, preceded by a traditional scattering of flowers and leaves in the sanctuary as the people exclaim, "Christ is born! Glorify Him!"

All are welcome to attend. To learn more about the Feast of Nativity in Eastern Christianity, and for a schedule of events, please call 443-2099 or visit www.eurekafirstchurch.com.