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Orthodox Christian believers celebrate Christmas

Orthodox Christian believers celebrate Christmas
7 Jan 2023

Belarusian Orthodox Christian believers celebrate one of the key holidays on the church calendar – Christmas. Preparations for the celebration began with a 40-day fast. The food consumption restrictions are supposed to prepare the body to accept the joyous news about the Savior’s birth. Genuine prayers are supposed to do the same for the soul. Celebrations began in temples all over Belarus in the evening on 6 January: the parishioners joined in prayers on Christmas Eve and looked forward to the appearance of the first star in the skies.

An all-night vigil on Christmas Eve in Belarus’ key Orthodox temple – the Minsk-based Holy Spirit Cathedral – began at 18:00. The service was led by the head priest of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Veniamin. The all-night vigil and the Divine Liturgy, which began at midnight, were broadcast live for all those, who could not come in person. For the first time the television broadcast was accompanied by a sign language interpretation upon requests of the viewers.

In his morning festive address Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus Veniamin addressed Belarus’ Orthodox Christian believers. He remarked that on Christmas “we recall the great thing that the world’s savior did as he came to Earth for the benefit of every person”. The head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church wished god mercy, blessings, and good health to the parishioners in the new year that had come and wished them to spend the days of the year in accord and love.

On Christmas Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko visited the Saint Elisabeth Convent in Minsk. He lit a Christmas candle in the Minsk-based temple named after the sanctifier John of Shanghai and San Francisco and congratulated Orthodox Christian believers and people of other faiths on Christmas.

“It is truly a light holiday. And Orthodoxy is just an occasion for all the lay people, all the citizens of Belarus with Orthodox and Catholic Christian [faith], for Muslims – for the entire world to celebrate this light holiday. But this day and this holiday are special for us, for Orthodox believers. This is why from the bottom of my heart I’d like to congratulate you on this holiday and wish the key thing – strong health,” the head of state said. “I wish you god’s blessing and very strong health.” The president addressed special wishes to parents. He wished their kids to be a pride of the family and the country. 

The final church service took place on 7 January – the Great Vespers gathered head priests of Minsk temples. The Christmas celebration will last till Epiphany Day – 19 January. The Belarusian calendar where religious and folk traditions are closely intertwine calls these weeks Christmastide – a time for merrymaking, colorful rites, and well wishing for the entire year.

Orthodox Christian believers celebrate Christmas
A temple named after the sanctifier John of Shanghai and San Francisco in Minsk
Aleksandr Lukashenko, Metropolitan Veniamin and parishioners of the temple
Orthodox Christian believers celebrate Christmas
Aleksandr Lukashenko, Metropolitan Veniamin and parishioners of the temple
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