An Orthodox Reflection on the 12 Days of Christmas

From Birth to Baptism: The Glory of Christmastide

A wonderful part of the Orthodox celebration of Christmas is the period of Christmastide or the 12 Days of Christmas. This is one of those rare times in the life of the Church where all fasting is suspended, and the fulness of Christ’s incarnation is on full display. Thankfully, people have come to understand more […]

Did You Know that Jesus Was Born in a Cave?

Did You Know that Jesus Was Born in a Cave?

Growing up, the day after Thanksgiving was the day our Christmas decorations were brought down from the attic. My grandmother is skilled in ceramics, and she long ago gave us a Nativity scene that she lovingly made herself. I fondly remember taking these pieces out of storage and arranging them on our coffee table. Most Nativity […]

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 Pagan Origins of Christmas Trees

The Pagan Origins of Christmas Trees

Nativity or Advent is a season for many wonderful things, but it’s also an opportunity for the anti-religious to hurl rhetoric against the Church. Ranging from offensive to ridiculous, these claims are perpetuated by a lack of research, unsubstantiated assertions, internet memes, repeated half-truths or myths, and even a passionate hatred that blinds one to […]

The Real Saint Nicholas

The Real Saint Nicholas

Many words could be written about the true life and legacy of Saint Nicholas. While most today only consider a fictional, elf-like inhabitant of the North Pole—and his band of flying reindeer—the prototype of this myth is a very real and very important person in the life of the Church. Born sometime in the latter […]

The Messiah and Gift-Giving

The Messiah and Gift-giving

The giving of gifts is an ancient custom found in practically every society. It has, and does, serve many purposes: to cement alliances between kings; to pay tribute by a lesser nation to a greater; to convey thanks; as a cultural gesture of appreciation at the first visit to someone’s home; to mollify an angry […]

Overcoming Holiday Depression

Overcoming Holiday Depression

By the time Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, many in America are already struggling with something known as holiday depression. But why does this depression occur, and how can one either prevent or appropriately deal with it? There are a number of causes suggested by medical science for holiday depression, but I would propose that many […]

Divine Liturgy and the Great Thanksgiving

Divine Liturgy and the Great Thanksgiving

Some of the most profound words of the Divine Liturgy are rarely heard. Standing at the south corner of the altar, the deacon quietly utters to the presiding priest: “It is time for the Lord to act.” This phrase sets the tone for everything in our worship. We are not performing some sort of magical […]

The Birth and Death of Mary

Saved Between the Birth and Death of Mary

Salvation is a journey from birth to death—and then to birth again. The calendar of our Church begins and ends with the story of salvation through Jesus Christ. And in that salvation story, the gateway—from birth to death—is the life of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. The ecclesiastical year begins on indiction, or September 1st, […]

Why We Fast Before Christmas

Why We Fast Before Nativity

The time of preparation before the great feast of the Nativity of Christ (i.e. Christmas) is intended to be a time of purposeful asceticism, almsgiving, and learning to say “yes” to God while saying “no” to one’s own desires. Christmas (especially in the present day) has become a time of great anxiety and materialism for […]