Resources for a Merry Orthodox Christmas

Resources for a Merry Orthodox Christmas

With about ten full days left until the great feast of Nativity (Christmas), I thought I would bring together every one of our posts related to the Orthodox celebration of Nativity—including fasting, gift-giving, works of charity, the history of the holy days, and more.

  • Why We Fast Before Christmas (by Gabe Martini) summarizes the “reason for the season” from an Orthodox perspective, explaining why we don’t pop the proverbial cork weeks in advance. All holy feasting requires holy preparation—otherwise, nothing holy remains, as our feasts become little more than demonic gluttony or thankless self-indulgence.
  • Fasting with the Orthodox Church (by Nathan Duffy) reminds us of the meaning behind our fasting, and how we should appropriately prepare and partake of this noble, ascetic endeavor. This is especially helpful for those of us who did not grow up as Orthodox Christians or in predominantly Orthodox nations.
  • Overcoming Holiday Depression (by Gabe Martini) deals with the inevitable psychological sickness that afflicts many in the west during the holiday season. There are real and good reasons why people get depressed during this time of year, and there are also real and good ways to cope as Orthodox Christians.
  • The Pagan Origins of Christmas Trees (by Gabe Martini) refutes some of the sadly common myths in our day regarding the origins of our holiday customs, while also providing a great way to help children learn the importance of the Advent of Christ during the Nativity season—the Tree of Jesse.
  • The Messiah and Gift-Giving (by Michael Coleman) is a beautiful scriptural reflection on the importance and nobility of proper gift-giving as Orthodox Christians, helping us to see not only the deeper meaning behind gift-giving, but also encouraging us to give fully of ourselves to those in need each holiday season.
  • The Real Saint Nicholas (by Gabe Martini) dispels myths regarding the person of Santa Claus or “Saint Nick” in our day and age, pointing us to the real, historical, Christlike figure of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, bishop of Myra in Lycia. An encouraging holiday story to share with friends and family—and one that is actually true.
  • Did You Know that Jesus Was Born in a Cave? (by Gabe Martini) tells the historical story of the real “Nativity scene” in the tradition of the Orthodox Church. See how the early Church fathers and the Orthodox Church today view this momentous event in the redemptive history of the cosmos.
  • An Orthodox Reflection on the 12 Days of Christmas (by Gabe Martini) introduces the 12 Days of Christmas or Christmastide, a period of feasting and celebration in the Orthodox Church imbued with theology, mysticism, and wonder, drawing a number of insights from holy scripture as well as the lives of the Saints.

May the rest of this Nativity season—and the glory of Christmastide—bring you and your families great joy and comfort.

For everyone here at On Behalf of All, I would like to wish you a very, merry Christmas!

40 Days Blog


  1. guy says


    (For some reason, when i posted this comment yesterday, it didn’t stick or show up or something)

    i was wondering if you might do a post about a couple of things:

    1. Why we celebrate on 12-25. (Growing up Protestant, i was always told this was just a ‘baptizing’ of pagans events/rituals)

    2. Why there’s a difference between the West and Russia–December 25th versus January 7th.

    • says

      Hey guy,

      I actually responded to it over on the post about Jesus’ birth in a cave:

      1. The great feast of Annunciation has a far older pedigree in the Church, and has always been celebrated as a fixed feast on March 25. Christmas, when adopted in the eastern churches (from the West) was affixed to December 25, nine months from the Annunciation, when Christ was conceived in the womb of the Ever-Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.

      2. December 25 on the Julian Calendar is the equivalent of January 7 on the Gregorian or revised Julian Calendars in the West. This will eventually become January 8 as the Julian Calendar continues to lose time (I believe by the year 2100).

        • says

          The Orthodox churches of Russia, Jerusalem, Serbia, Georgia, and the monasteries of Mount Athos still use the original Julian Calendar for their ecclesiastical dates (all fixed feasts, as well as the Paschalion).

          Beginning in 1923, the churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria adopted the “New” Calendar (a revised version of the Julian Calendar that is more aligned with the Gregorian) for all fixed feasts.

          The Paschalion (following the first Council of Nicaea) has remain unchanged for these churches, however, and so all Orthodox Christians celebrate Great Lent, Pascha, and Pentecost on the same dates, regardless of Calendar.

          The Gregorian Calendar changed the Paschalion for the West, and so Rome and Protestants often celebrate Easter on a different date than the eastern churches. The eastern churches have refused to change the Paschalion, as it was determined by an Ecumenical Council.

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