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Georgia and Russia celebrating Christmas2010-01-07 15:51
Serbian and Georgian Orthodox Churches, as well as Afon monasteries, many Eastern Rite Catholics (like the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) and part of the Russian Protestants celebrate Christmas on the night of January 6-7 together with almost thirty thousand parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Ten years ago 2000 Christmas in Georgia was celebrated together with the 1700th anniversary of Georgia's Christianity as official state religion. Georgia was baptized in 4th century, in 337. It was a female, Saint Nino, who came to Georgia from Cappadocia (in ancient geography Cappadocia is a vast region in Minor Asia, present-day Turkey). Nino was searching for the chiton Christ was crucified in.
According to the customs of the Roman Empire possessions of the crucified were played between soldiers of the guard. As the legend goes, one of the objects - Christ's chiton - was won by Elias, a Jew from Georgia. He brought the chiton to his motherland, Georgia. His sister, Sidonia, treasured the relic and never left it behind clutching it tight to her bosom. When she died the embrace was so strong that it was impossible to take the chiton from her, and she was buried holding it.
Nino came to Georgia in search of this sacred relic carrying a grapevine cross. The vine dried up and the form of the cross changed. That is why a traditional Georgian cross looks like a flying aircraft, and now there are both versions of the cross valid in Georgia - a classical Orthodox cross and a grapevine cross.
By midnight people in Georgian towns and villages come to the night service. The country leaders and famous public figures come to the Sameba (Saint Trinity) Cathedral in Avlabari area. The church is the main authority in this country, a most ancient Orthodox state. The Patriarch's words are looked forward to. He delivers his address via the Synod.
As Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II stated, Orthodox Georgia is happy to celebrate the Holy Christmas and "is praying for remittance of its own sins and the sins of others". The nation's godfather reminded people of their rights and responsibilities admonishing against propaganda of sin and violence.
There is special respect for Christmas and the way to celebrate it. Each family cooks festive meals; special Christmas scones - kvertsi - are baked for each family member. After the ceremonial service in church a repast starts.