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MOSCOW, January 7. /TASS/. Orthodox Christians in Russia and other countries around the world are celebrating Christmas on January 7, an event which 2016 years ago marked the beginning of the new history of mankind.
Christians conclude a four-week fast during which they confess their sins and receive communion. And on Christmas Eve they have special fasting, "until the first star," in memory of how the Magi came first to the birthplace of Christ following the movement of the star in the sky. At present, a candle in front of the altar, which is lit at the end of the Christmas Eve service at about noon, symbolizes the star.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia recited Christmas Eve liturgy at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow.
The festive Christmas service recalls the great event that marked the beginning of a new era for mankind. At the moment of birth of Godman God's grace touched every person, every family line, and from that time the person has the opportunity to accept the gift.
Russia’s main Orthodox cathedral, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, built to commemorate the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812, is dedicated to the biblical birth of Jesus, since on this very day, December 25 of the older Julian calendar, the last soldier of the Napoleon army left Russia. For the first time ever, the Christmas Eve service was held with open Holy Doors to symbolize the openness of God’s word for all.
The Russian Orthodox Church today has more than 30,000 churches and 800 monasteries in almost 70 countries. Religious services are conducted during the night and in the morning in all Orthodox churches on all continents.
January 7 is also Christmas day for Orthodox Christians in Serbia, Jerusalem, Georgia, and the monastic community of Mount Athos in Greece, one of Orthodox Christianity's holiest sites. A midnight mass also took place in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem which marks the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born in the West Bank town.