It’s Christmas Eve! It’s January 6th. As my American friend told me, his grandma used to say that that was an old style Christmas time. I’ve done some research about why Western world celebrates Christmas on December 25th, and Orthodox Church celebrates it on January 7th. It might sound a bit confusing, but it’s worth trying to understand, because it’s all our history in the end.
Orthodox Church still celebrates Christmas according to the ancient Julian calendar. Julian calendar was found by Julius Caesar in 45 BC; which was a reform of Roman calendar. It was changed by Pope Gregory XIII when he introduced Gregorian calendar in 1582. According to Julian calendar, Christmas was celebrated on December 25th. And here is something interesting. Many countries kept the date of December 25th for Christmas. What happened though, they basically moved Christmas Day 13 days back (there was a 13 day difference between Gregorian calendar and Julian calendar). In Julian calendar December 25th would be January 7th in Gregorian calendar. So now if you think of it, December 25th in Gregorian calendar would be December 12th in Julian calendar. Interesting, ha! With implementation of a new calendar many countries decided not to change the celebration date of Christmas, except for the Orthodox churches of Jerusalem, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, Georgia, Poland, and the Republic of Macedonia. They still celebrate Christmas on December 25th according to the ancient Julian calendar, which is January 7th on Gregorian calendar, the calendar that the modern world uses.
Some Americans confuse Epiphany which falls on January 6th with Orthodox Christmas Day on January 7th. But they actually have nothing to do with each other. This confusion is simply due to the calendar changes.
It’s a Christmas season, either it’s December 25th or January 7th, it’s a great time for Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and simply enjoy this time!