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C H R I S T M A S

The Orthodox and Eastern rite churches such as the Ukrainian have maintained the Julian Calendar for ecclesiastical purposes into this century. The Ukrainians, numbering some 50 million in the world are the second largest nation following the Julian Calendar in their churches. The difference between the two Calendars placed Christmas on January 7th and, because of the size of the Ukrainian church the date has become widely known as “Ukrainian Christmas.” However, there are other smaller Eastern-rite Orthodox national churches such as the Greek, Syrian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Byelorussian that follow the same calendar.

Currently, churches on the Gregorian calendar calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon that comes on or after the vernal equinox (March 21). This means that Easter can fall within a 35-day period between March 22 and April 25, inclusive. Churches that still use the old Julian calendar occasionally have Easter on the same Sunday as those on the Gregorian calendar, but through the different methods of calculation may celebrate Easter anywhere from one to five weeks later. This is due to a combination of factors including the thirteen-day lag behind the Gregorian calendar and the tradition that Easter must necessarily follow the Jewish Passover but must never precede or coincide with it.
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