Christmas… January 7th or December 25th?

Christmas-january7th-or-december 25

By Safaa Magdy

In Egypt, we mostly celebrate Christmas or Jesus’s Birthday on the 7th January, but it can be confusing when you see many people around the world celebrating Christmas on the 25th of December, right? Well, Yaoota understands how you feel and we will make it super simple for you.

First, for your own record, Egypt is not the only country in the world that celebrates Christmas on January 7th. We share this celebration date with 15 countries, including: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Serbia, Palestine, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Romania, Moldova, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Eretria and Ethiopia.

What’s the difference between Jan 7th and Dec 25th?

The reason behind the difference is the different calendars people follow. So to have the full picture, let’s start from the beginning.

The exact date of Jesus’s birthday is not quite clear for scientists and historians. However, they agreed that the day Jesus was born is the day when day hours start to increase while night hours start to decrease. John the Baptist said in his bible “He must increase but I must decrease” referring to the birth of Jesus.

In AD 325, The Council of Nicaea (First Ecumenical Council, was held in Greece, to preserve the unity of the church) agreed that the day when day hours start to increase is the birthday of Jesus and that day met 29th Kiahk (one of the twelve months in the Coptic Calendar created by the Pharaohs) and at that time, Kiahk 29 met December 25.

It might be surprising to know that the Egyptians celebrated Christmas on December 25 until the English Occupation in 1882 (source, Arabic).

Many years later, scientists found a mistake in their calculations and after re-calculating the date they agreed that Christmas is on January 7th.

So does this mean that celebrating Christmas on the 25th of December is wrong?

No, it is not wrong. As mentioned earlier, countries follow different calendars. We follow the calendar of Julius Cezar while other countries including the USA, UK and others follow the Gregorian calendar. If you check the two calendars, you will find that the dates are the same.

So both January 7 and December 25 are right.

Christmas Traditions

In Egypt, Christmas is the second most important holiday after the resurrection. Before Christmas, Christians don’t eat meat or dairy for 40 days. On the night of Christmas, they have a feast where they can eat meat, butter, soup and eggs. Then they go to the service in the church. On Christmas day, they wear new outfits, visit each others and send gifts of biscuits and cookies to their friends and families.

In Greece, Christians celebrate Saint Nicholas who was known during the AD 300’s to help sailors, children and anyone who is in need. So the Greek celebrate and bless the sea.

In Ethiopia, people attend church in whites clothes and then play sports.

In Serbia, Christians decorate their houses with oak trees that they get from the woods or sometimes supermarkets. Getting the tree has its very special etiquette; the house owner goes to the woods searching for the special oak tree. Once he finds the perfect one, he stands before it facing east, then he throws it with grains and says “Good morning oak tree and Merry Christmas to you”. Sometimes, he explains to it why it is getting cut and asks for permission to do so. After that, he would draw a cross on it and then cuts it with an axe. It is believed by some that if the tree didn’t fall to the east,  it will bring bad luck to the house.

In Palestine, the celebration for Christmas is just awesome, because Bethlehem in Palestine is actually where Jesus was born. So they celebrate with a big parade in the streets that are decorated with beautifully designed lights. People dress up as Santa and they give away sweets and play music for days.

In Kazakhstan, people exchange gifts, vodka, wine and pies and dance and sing songs.

Finally, in Ukraine, families have a feast of 12 dishes representing the 12 apostles. They youngest kid in the family waits for the shiny star Sirius to show up in the sky. Once he/she spots it, the feast begins.

Wondering about when was the first New Year’s celebration ever? Check out this article. And for the Top 13 New Year’s Resolutions, check this article out.

Check out these articles for Christmas decorations, Christmas gifts, and for what to wear on Christmas.

Yaoota wishes you a very Merry Christmas.

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