MOSCOW, January 7. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Orthodox Christians and all Russians on Christmas celebrated according to the Julian calendar on Sunday, the Kremlin press service said.
"I extend my cordial congratulations on Christmas. This bright holiday gives millions of believers joy and hope, and accustoms them to spiritual origins and fatherly traditions, and unites them around eternal Christian values, centuries-old historic and cultural heritage of our people," the message says.
The Russian president praised the great role of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations in preserving civil peace and accord in the country and fostering dialogue between religious and ethnic groups. "And certainly, they made a significant contribution to strengthening high moral ideals in society, educating the growing generation and solving vital social problems," the president said.
Putin wished health, success and prosperity to all Orthodox Christians who are celebrating Christmas.
Orthodox Christians in Russia and other countries celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar on January 7, two weeks after most western Christian churches that use the Gregorian calendar. The Russian Orthodox Church today has more than 30,000 churches and 900 monasteries in almost 70 countries. Religious services are conducted during the night and in the morning in all Orthodox churches on all continents.