The Orthodox world celebrates on 7 January Christmas holiday, which since ancient times is considered one of the most important and beautiful in Christianity.
On this day in Bethlehem was born Jesus Christ, who was sent by God to earth to atone for the sins and salvation of humanity (“Jesus” in Hebrew means “salvation”).
This day literally divided human history into “before” and “after” (BC) with the Nativity originated modern timing.
Correspondent “Segodnia” figured out as they celebrate Christmas in Ukraine and other countries of the world.
The history of celebrating Christmas
The tradition to celebrate Christmas as a holiday appeared much later than actual Christmas: one of the first mentions of the day of its celebration dates back to as much as 4-th century.
The Orthodox branch of Christianity, adhering to the Julian calendar, traditionally celebrates Christmas on 7 January, and the Catholic – December 25, according to the Gregorian calendar.
Since ancient times, the celebration of Christmas as a whole lasted 12 days. On the last day before the holiday to celebrate Christmas eve. Its name came from the special meal, which traditionally began the Christmas meal on this day – sochivo (kutya).
Traditionally on Christmas eve forbidden to eat until the first star. That is why the celebration of Christmas starts with the sunrise sunset, which proclaim to the world about the time of the birth of the Savior.
The traditions and rituals of celebrating Christmas in Ukraine
The celebration of Christmas in modern-day Ukraine from ancient times were accompanied by colorful folk customs, where it was considered one of the top family holidays has been waiting for all year.
In the Slavic lands, Christmas has blended with the ancient Slavic rite of the Yule (Yule rites eventually became Christmas). This time was considered the most fun of the year: young people gathered for mass celebrations, singing songs and telling fables. In addition, this time was considered magical: the girls gathered together to tell fortunes at her spouse-costumed. Christmas continues for 12 days after Christmas.
The celebration of Christmas prepared well in advance. 40 days until Christmas began Christmas fast (hence its other name — the Holy lent): eat the fish, but at Christmas it was customary to cook pork.
Christmas usually is celebrated on the sixth of January, in Sweatwater (Holy evening). This day should also keep a strict fast with complete abstinence from food until the first star. The evening meal became the end of the strict forty day fast before Christmas. At the table decided to gather the whole family immediately after the appearance of the first star in the sky, which symbolizes the star of Bethlehem, opovestit the shepherds about the birth of Jesus.
Starting from the evening of 6 January was made to sing. Carolers went from house to house with the “star of Bethlehem” – a large star of gilt paper, adorned with a flashlight, paper garlands, sometimes the icon which was fixed on a stick. Carolers sang Christmas carols – Christmas carols. For their songs of the carolers asked the owners of the surrounding houses coins. This tradition has been preserved until now.
The most famous Christmas tune “shchedryk”, it can often be heard in American films, for example, in “home Alone”. In the West it is often called Carol of the bells (Carol oft he bells). Today, many music artists to create covers of “Shchedryk” – on the Internet you can even find dubstep version of a Christmas Carol.
One of the oldest Christmas customs in Ukraine Vertep. It is a miniature puppet theater, placed in a box, in which he lost entire performances on the theme of Christmas. Dolls made of paper, wool, wax, dressed in brocade and silk kaftans. In the center of the composition has consistently placed Mary and Joseph bending over the manger with the Divine child.
In the Western and southern regions of Ukraine such den often installed in the Church. In the nineteenth century, many urban homes came into Vogue for the children to do small home den, put it under the tree.
Special traditions relate to the Christmas meal. On Christmas table must necessarily be twelve dishes in honor of the twelve apostles. Main dish vegetable table is kutya – wheat or rice porridge mixed with poppy seeds, raisins, honey and nuts, and uzvar (dried fruit compote).
Uzvar and kutya have a special, symbolic meaning. Kutu is usually served at funerals and memorials, to distribute to people for the soul. Uzvar is preparing for child birth. Thus, kutia and uzvar at the same time remind us of the birth and death of Christ.
In some regions of Ukraine there is a tradition to decorate the table with Didukh, a sheaf of oats or wheat of special shape: with four legs and a large number of nodes (this is the symbol of prosperity for the next year).
Churches and houses at Christmas in the Ukraine people decorate pine branches and fir trees, which symbolize eternal life. The tradition of decorating a Christmas tree comes from the Paradise tree, decorated with bright fruits.
In villages like in the old days, a Christmas cover the floor in the huts with fresh hay, and the table — straw, which then veiled the cloth and put a treat. All this reminds us that the Savior was born in the Royal chambers, and in the sheep barn and was laid in the manger for straw.
On the morning of 7 January, the family went to Church on Eid prayers, welcoming strangers with the words “Christ is born!”. They answered, “Praise him!”.
The second day of Christmas (January 8) — it is also a holiday. It glorifies the mother of God, joy to the world gave birth to, and this day is called the Synaxis of the Theotokos
Christmas in the West
Catholics, Protestants and some Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on December 25 in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. The religious celebration begins in the night from 24th to 25th December midnight mass.
Over the 4 Sundays before Christmas begins, the so-called Advent, Adventszeit (from lat. adventus — coming). Advent – Christmas time in the Catholic and Protestant churches, analogous to the Orthodox Christmas fast.
Today, however, the advent in the Catholic Church is not considered as a lean period, although many continue during this period to refrain from eating meat. During the season of advent, the Church urges believers to confess and take communion, and to do works of mercy.
One of the most famous traditions concerning the advent season is “advent wreath” — a wreath of fir branches, which bears four candles. The first Sunday one candle is lit, on the second — two and so on, that is, with each week becoming brighter. These wreaths decorate the Church and home. Another famous tradition is the advent calendar for children, divided into “Windows” by the number of calendar days. Each “window” there is a hidden treat that the child can get only if this day did something good.
Despite the similarity in the celebration of Christmas in Europe and America, the peculiarities of different cultures and people make them unique.
On Christmas eve in Germany life like stops, close all the shops, restaurants and cafes, as Christmas day traditionally it should be noted certainly at home in the family circle. On Christmas eve (Heilige Abend) German families according to the custom of going to Church, and then sit down to dinner. On the Christmas table is usually served 7 or 9 dishes. Christmas is not complete without a millet porridge made with milk, flavored with butter and honey, stuffed goose, pork with sauerkraut, Stollen, a Christmas cake made of dried fruit and various spices. During dinner all wish each other happiness and health and exchanged gifts and small children find gifts under the tree for the next morning. Christmas gifts bring them Weihnachtsmann (similar to Santa Claus), while, for instance, in Bavaria, the children are waiting for Christmas angel.
The main colors of Christmas in England and America is red and green, so evergreen trees, the residents tied a bright red ribbon, a variety of lanterns and toys. Crowned the green beauty must the angel, the messenger of the birth of Jesus or the star that the Magi saw.
In the UK for Christmas all Windows of rural houses lit by candles, therefore among local residents night before Christmas called “night of candles”. Christmas dinner includes such traditional dishes like stuffed Turkey (the British) or roast goose (in Wales, Ireland) and indispensable plum-pudding. The second day of Christmas in the Church calendar dedicated to Saint Stefan. In England this day is called Boxing day (Boxing day). This name came from the custom install in the churches before Christmas special money-boxes, where you give offerings for the poor.
In English-speaking countries there is also a funny custom to hang over the door sprig of mistletoe. According to custom, once a year, on Christmas eve, men have the right to kiss any girl stopped under the decoration of this plant.
In the southern United States, Christmas is celebrated especially noisy with fireworks and fireworks. Early settlers congratulated so of their neighbors. Also it was believed that the thus expelled the evil spirits.
A very different tradition to the cold Alaska. On Christmas night a group of boys and girls with lanterns in hand carry from house to house, a large cardboard star decorated with pieces of colored paper. The next day the children dress in the retinue of king Herod trying to kill baby Jesus, staging, thus, the events of two thousand years ago.
Poles before Christmas December 24, lay hay on the floor and under the tablecloth – it ought to remind them about the Inn, the stable and the manger where he was born, Jesus. In the evening, as soon as the first star rises, starts traditional Polish Christmas dinner. Beetroot soup, various fish, cabbage, mushrooms and “sweet meat” (not real meat, and the sweetness of honey and poppy) is a traditional food for this holiday. Meat dishes can be eaten only on Christmas day itself – December 25.
Hungarians pay great attention to the Church service and singing Christmas eve and day. In the evening they gather in their yards near the decorated Christmas trees and waiting for the first stars. After that prepare a richly flavored foods: rolls with walnuts and poppy seed, dumplings with honey and poppy seed, and biscuits with caraway, sesame and anise.
Despite the peculiarities of the traditions of celebrating Christmas in different people, at the present time practically they all share some common characters. These include the tradition of giving Christmas gifts, and mandatory character of the holiday – Santa Claus (the Santa Claus) and Christmas tree decorated with toys and garlands. However, in the West it is believed that Santa (Santa Claus) enters the house to the most obedient and diligent the guys through the window or the front door, and right at the chimney-breast. Therefore, many residents of America and England adorn the roofs of their houses with figures of Santa Claus and reindeer.
Almost everywhere at Christmas hang holiday wreaths and bells, but also lit the Christmas candles. In this holiday all people the glory of Christ greet each other with “Christ is born!”, and relatives send Christmas cards. And wishes for Christmas, must be good.