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August 4, 2021

Old Calendarists celebrate Christmas

Old Calendar Orthodox – Lipovian Russians, Ukrainians living in Dobrogea, the people of Basarabia and the Serbs based in the Banat region – are celebrating Christmas while the Orthodox observing the Gregorian Calendar are celebrating the Epiphany. The only Old Calendar place of veneration in Bucharest is the Dormition of the Theotokos Monastery in the Televiziunii Street, but there are more than 80 such churches all over Romania. According to the old Julian Calendar, Christmas is celebrated on January 7 and is anticipated by Christmas Eve when children and young people wearing traditional costumes visit their relatives and friends with knotted breads and flowery towels, bringing them the good news of the Nativity. When they go back to their homes, traditional families sit together for a fasting meal called the ‘Holy Supper’ immediately after the first star starts shining in the sky, standing for the star that guided the Magi to the place of the Nativity.

The Christmas Eve supper of the Old Calendarists contains the same fast courses that are specific to the Holidays. People in Moldavia, in Transylvania or the Lipovian, Armenian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian or Serbian minorities prepare 12 courses, one for each apostle. The smokes prune compote, boiled wheat with nuts or the fasting sarmale with mushrooms, exquisite foods that announce a major Holiday on the night when Jesus Christ was born.

On Christmas Day, the Orthodox who observe the Old Calendar go to church to attend the Liturgy. At noon, families come together for a traditional meal serving suckling pig roast, sarmale, fish, soups, zakouska, red wine and vodka. There are over one million adherents of the Old Calendar Christian Orthodox Church living in Romania, mainly Russian, Lipovians, Armenians and Serbs. According to the 2002 census, the number of Lipovian Russians is 29,774, of Russians – 8,914, of Serbs – 22,518 and of Armenians – 1,780.

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