Today we celebrate the Orthodox New Year: where, how and why it is celebrated

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Today, January 14, is the first day of the new year for those who celebrate the Orthodox New Year according to the Julian calendar. Beyond the different date, the methods of celebrations are more or less the same followed by people who celebrate the new year following the Gregorian calendar, such as Italy, and who have therefore already celebrated New Year’s Eve. However, for every small Orthodox community, wherever it is established, January 14 is a holiday date.

Where the Orthodox New Year is celebrated

All states where the main religion is the Orthodox one therefore celebrate the beginning of a new year today, even if they have already adopted the Gregorian calendar at the civil level. These are mainly Eastern European countries: Russia, Serbia, Moldova, Belarus, Macedonia, Ukraine and Georgia. Informally, the Orthodox New Year is also celebrated in some areas of Israel.

How the Orthodox New Year is celebrated

In countries where the Orthodox New Year is a national holiday, such as Serbia, the celebrations go on with big events and fireworks. Elsewhere, where it is still customary to celebrate it but it is not a national holiday, it is treated more as a moment of reflection and an opportunity to be with the family. This is the case, for example, in Russia, where the “Old New Year” (Story Novo God) is celebrated. We sit down at the table for a big dinner and usually at the stroke of midnight we go to a religious ceremony, which is followed by folk dances. In Russia, those who celebrate the Orthodox New Year exchange gifts on this date instead of Christmas.