Slavic countries (MNN) — Merry Christmas! Millions of Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus today thanks to a difference between the Catholic Gregorian calendar (now used by most of the world) and that of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Catholic church started using the Gregorian calendar in 1582, well after the Great Schism with the Orthodox church in the 11th century. Read more here.
Eric Mock of the Slavic Gospel Association says Slavic Christians see Christmas less as a day and more as an opportunity for fellowship and evangelism lasting from January 7th to about January 12th. “A part of their tradition during the Christmas season involves opening one’s home to other guests. In Ukraine, it was a little different. If you entered a house, they would actually hand you a fork and allow you to participate in one of the 12 different little plates they had on the table. And you were singing Christmas carols and sharing a devotion right there in their living room. And then you were praying for the family.”
Christmas and evangelism
In the Russian Far East, Mock says evangelism is actually part of the Christmas celebration. “They came out and they went from street corner to street corner singing songs. And then the pastor stood on the corner and started street preaching the true message of Christmas.”
During this Orthodox Christmas season, pray many hearts would be open to the Gospel. Mock says, “You have people that are in more Muslim areas and in the [Ukrainian] war zone. You have people that are in distant villages, like in Far East Russia, where they worship the sun and the moon and the stars. And all of a sudden, they’re hearing Christmas. They’re hearing about the advent of Christ. They’re hearing about His atonement, and they’re hearing about Him coming again.”
Pray these Christians would have safety as they observe Christmas this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Join them in the celebration that Jesus has come to dwell with His people.
The header photo shows a representation of the twelve dish meal that Ukrainians eat to celebrate Christmas. (Photo courtesy of Jacques Hnizdovsky, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons)