Russian Orthodox Christians are celebrating Christmas today. Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, will conduct the Christmas service at the huge Christ the Savior Cathedral being built near the Kremlin. The Russian Orthodox Church still observes the calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, which lags some two weeks behind the Gregorian calendar used in the West since 1582. The Bolsheviks banned Christmas as a holiday. It was restored in 1991, but New Year remains Russia’s major festival, making the first week of January one long holiday for many Russians. (AP, Itar-Tass, January 7)
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