As you can see, I still have my two Christmas trees standing in my garden. The first of the two images directly above features my exotic Christmas tree. It's a Canadian Palm tree that I featured in a prior entry here on Blogger. The second photo features my "normal" Christmas tree (located in the back-center of the image). This particular tree is for the birds! I say this because I decorated it with several bird feeders.
An array of birds including sparrows, dark-eyed juncoes and European starlings, have been enjoying noshing from the "ornaments"on this tree; as well as the seeds and pieces of suet that fall to the ground (or the surrounding area within my garden); as evidenced by the photographs below.
Today's snowfall means that it is a white Christmas for a number of New Yorkers because this date of January the Seventh is known as Orthodox Christmas. According to a source known as time and date, "Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day on or near January 7 to remember Jesus Christ’s birth, described in the Christian Bible. This date works to the Julian calendar that pre-dates the Gregorian calendar, which is commonly observed (dates around January 7 may vary among some churches).
"The day is a time of reflection, inner thoughts and healing in many eastern European countries. Many Orthodox Christians fast before January 7, which is a day for feasting and enjoying the friends’ and family members’ company. Orthodox Christmas food may include: Lenten bread, nuts and fresh dried fruits, vegetables and herbs such as potatoes, peas, and garlic; mushroom soup, slow-cooked kidney beans with potatoes, garlic and seasoning; Bobal’ki, which is small biscuits combined with sauerkraut or poppy seed with honey; bowls of honey, and baked cod.
"The type of food and activity may vary depending on the country’s culture and traditions. In some Orthodox Christian cultures, people walk in procession to seas, rivers and lakes as part of the liturgy on the Orthodox Christmas Day. They make holes in the ice to bless the water if it is frozen. Little importance is given to gift exchanges and the commercialized Christmas.
"Some Orthodox Christians observe the Nativity and Adoration of the Shepherds (those who visited baby Jesus) on January 6, followed by the Adoration of the Magi (three wise men or kings) on January 7. Church liturgies on Orthodox Christmas Eve (January 6) may be longer than usual but many people find them inspiring."
Moreover, the aforementioned source states that "Christmas Day is a public holiday on January 7 in countries such as Belarus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Russia, and the Ukraine. Some countries, such as Armenia, observe Christmas Day on January 6. The January 7 celebration of Christmas Day is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States."
And they offer background info re this: "Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, who many Christians believe is the son of God. His birth date is unknown because there is little information about his early life. The Gospel of St Matthew in the Bible claims he was born during Herod the Great’s reign. Herod, who was a king of Judaea, died in 4 BCE. Many Christians celebrate Jesus’ birthday on December 25 but there are some who hold tradition by observing the date on January 7.
Christmas on January 7 is also known as Old Christmas Day. Eleven days were dropped to make up for the calendar discrepancy that accumulated with Julian calendar when England and Scotland switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Many people, especially in rural areas, did not accept the loss of these 11 days and preferred to use the Julian calendar.
Many Orthodox churches recognize the holiday dates according to the Julian calendar. Christmas is still on December 25 in the Julian calendar so the January 7 date is only valid between 1901 and 2100 The Gregorian date for Orthodox Christmas will be January 8 in 2101 if the Julian calendar is still used. The Julian calendar was revised in 1923 and this version is more in line with the Gregorian calendar. A few Orthodox churches follow the revised Julian calendar but most Orthodox churches follow the more traditional Julian calendar, which has the original dates for Christian observances prior to the Gregorian calendar’s introduction."
They also describe the symbols used during this time: "Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of Russia, sailors and children, represents the kind, good, and giving spirit of Christmas. White cloth is used on dinner tables in some countries to symbolize purity and the cloth that baby Jesus was wrapped in. Straw may be placed on these tables to symbolize the simplicity of the place where Jesus was born. Candles may be lit to represent the light of Christ and the festive Christmas meal represents the end of fasting."
And with that dear reader, if Orthodox Christmas is something you celebrate, I wish you a very merry and blessed one!
Btw, if you are in need of a gift idea when celebrating this holiday, I suggest you get the iBook or ePub version of Cam's book, Words In Our Beak, Volume One.
I also suggest you give the gift of my fauna-flora-insect-themed postcards (seen in thumbnail format below).
Currently the fauna-themed ones are being sold at the gift shop at The Raptor Trust (a bird rehab facility in New Jersey). And all the selections are being sold at an exquisite shop in NYC called More & More Antiques. Additionally, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum will be selling all of the selections in their gift shop in the coming days!
So, dear reader, once again I wish you good tidings on this Orthodox Christmas! May your days be MERRY & BRIGHT! And, May ALL your Christmases be WHTE!