On January 6, Christmas eve, Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas eve, which is the last day of the multi-day fasting. Lent, which began on November 28, lasts 40 days, on the last of which many religious do not eat at all, waiting for the appearance of the first star, which embodies the Star of Bethlehem.
Only at nightfall it is allowed to eat soaked grains (wheat or rice brew with honey and fruits), which gave the name to this day – Christmas eve. Divine Liturgies will be also held in all Orthodox churches and temples of Ashgabat.
– For an Orthodox person, Christmas is the main holiday, – says the Father-Abbot of the Alexander Nevsky Church, John Kopach. – People were waiting for the Messiah, as a new era comes with his birth. Eastern sages brought gifts to the newborn: gold, frankincense, myrrh. Today’s gifts are not material goods, but welfare, love and charity.
In the festive divine service, they also remember those thanks to whom the Savior received his worldly incarnation – the Purest Virgin Mary and Joseph the Betrothed. On this solemn day, Orthodox Christians visit their family and relatives, pay more attention to friends, thank each other for everything and ask for forgiveness.
– Two main liturgies are fulfilled here in Ashgabat, being no different from the celebration of Christmas in other countries. We also build a Nativity scene – the place where Jesus was born, decorate the temple and wait for parishioners. Absolutely everyone can attend the Divine Liturgy. We welcome everyone who comes to our “home” in pace.
According to a long-standing tradition, as the twilight sets in, kollyva appears first on the festive table of Orthodox Christians. This porridge is a traditional treat for Orthodox Christmas eve. The grain is a symbol of resurrected life, and the honey –spicing brew, represents health and happiness.
Children eagerly await the appearance of the first star on Christmas Eve, as Saint Nicholas – Santa Claus has prepared gifts for all of them. Handmade gifts are especially appreciated, because this day is lit up with good deeds and Christian charity.
Christians believe that at Christmas you cannot quarrel, you need to try to come to terms with your enemies, so that in the new year it will be peaceful both at home and in the soul. Another belief says that if you spend the night outside the house, you will wander around the world for a whole year, so on Christmas Eve all family members try to be together under their own roof.
Christmas is one of the most important holidays for the entire Orthodox world, on January 7, believers celebrate and feast, because from this day they can eat not only Lenten, but also “vegetarian” food. And the next 12 days of Christmas are called “Yuletide”, the last of which are preparations for baptism.