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Which countries celebrate Christmas on January 7: why the dates differ

Alina MilsentNews
Celebrating Christmas

With the transition to the New Julian calendar, the UOC and UGCC will now celebrate Christmas on December 25. In fact, the birth of Jesus is a conditional date, and neither historians nor religious scholars have reliable information about this event.

Some churches continue to celebrate Christmas on January 7, and one of the world's oldest Christian churches, the Armenian Apostolic Church, celebrates Christmas on January 6. Which countries celebrate the birth of Christ on January 7 and why the dates differ - read in the article of OBOZ.UA.

Confusion with dates and calendars

In 431, at the Ephesus (or Third World) Church Council, it was decided to celebrate Christmas on December 25. The Bible, of course, does not indicate the day or year when Jesus was born.

All Christian denominations of the world, including Catholics and Orthodox, celebrate Christmas on December 25, and the previous difference of 13 days was only in the calendar used by the churches.

Vyacheslav Horshkov, an expert of the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience, explained in a commentary to DW: "When they say that the Orthodox celebrate Christmas on January 7, this is a common perception, because in fact the Orthodox celebrate on December 25."

The Julian calendar has been used since the Roman Empire and was introduced by Julius Caesar. Astronomically, it was inaccurate, so Christmas began to shift over time. Currently, the difference is 13 days, but it will only grow over the years.

Back in the 16th century, Pope Gregory XIII implemented a calendar reform, introducing the so-called Gregorian calendar. The gap was eliminated very simply: in 1582, 10 days simply disappeared from the calendar. After the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4, 1582, the transition to the new calendar took place, instantly throwing everyone forward to October 15.

Much later, in 1932, the New Julian calendar appeared, a modified and modern version of the Julian calendar, which was astronomically outdated. The New Julian calendar was proposed by Milutin Milankovic, a Serbian astronomer and professor of mathematics at the University of Belgrade. Experts say that by 2800 it will completely coincide with the Gregorian calendar.

December 25 or January 7

On December 25, Christmas is celebrated by most Orthodox local churches in the world, which celebrate according to the New Julian calendar: Constantinople, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Alexandria, Antioch, Albania, Bulgaria, and from September 1, 2023, the Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Churches.

The Julian calendar continues to be used by the Russian, Georgian, Serbian, Jerusalem Orthodox Churches, as well as the Athos monasteries, and they celebrate Christmas on January 7.

The Armenian Apostolic Church, which is one of the oldest in the world, celebrates Christmas simultaneously with the Epiphany on January 6 - as Christians did in the third century.

Earlier, OBOZ.UA told in detail about the history of the transition to the Gregorian calendar in the Middle Ages.

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