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Orthodox Christians mark Christmas in almost 70 countries

January 07, 2012, 1:44 UTC+3

A Christmas tree decorated with crystal figures of angels is installed outside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior

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MOSCOW, January 7 (Itar-Tass) — Orthodox Russians are celebrating Christmas on Saturday, January 7. The birth of Jesus marked the beginning of a new era in the history of mankind 2012 years ago.

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill is conducting a night Christmas service at the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior. About 5,000 people have gathered in the cathedral for the night service to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. They had to stand under rain prior to entering the church. January is record warm in Russia this year. The temperature on Christmas night is five degrees Centigrade above zero.

A Christmas tree decorated with crystal figures of angels is installed outside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

The Cathedral of Christ the Savior is devoted to Nativity of Jesus Christ. The cathedral was built on popular donations in honor of Russia’s victory in the war against Napoleon in 1812. This year Russia will mark the 200th anniversary of victory over Napoleon. That is why the cathedral will become the centre of many festive events.

In his Christmas address Patriarch Kirill said that the past year was not easy for Russia and other states of “historical Rus”. He said that most of those trials were spiritual rather than material. He urged the Russians to hear the voice of their conscience warning about the danger of sin and be able to square their actions with evangelical testaments.

Charity is an inseparable part of any Christian holiday. Christmas tree parties will be organized at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Patriarch Kirill will visit children who are seriously ill in a Moscow hospital on January 8.

In his Christmas message the patriarch urged the Russians to take care of the needy in these Christmas days. He also recalled that even nowadays Christians were being persecuted in some countries. Hundreds of Christians have died in bomb explosions in the west of the African continent in recent days. About 90 thousand Christians have fled their homes.

The Russian Orthodox Church has more than 30,000 churches and 800 monasteries in 60 countries.

The Serbian Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, the Georgian Orthodox Church and the monasteries on the Holy Mount Athos in Greece. A night service is being held at the place of Jesus Christ’s birth in Bethlehem.

Orthodox Christians will celebrate the Savior’s arrival into the world for 12 days until the Epiphany. An international Christmas festival of Christian church music will be held at the Moscow International House of Music during the Christmastide on the initiative of maestro Vladimir Spivakov and Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev who is also a composer. The festival will take place for the second time. This year the program will include the songs of old believers and Byzantine songs, French folk songs and American gospels.



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