After christmas is before christmas : the christ child comes again

Orthodox Christians also celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in Berlin according to the old Julian calendar this Sunday and Monday.

Burning candles and a preister and believers at a Christmas celebration at the Russian Orthodox Church of Saints Constantine and Helena in Berlin-Tegel

Christmas party in the Russian Orthodox Church of Saints Constantine and Helena in Berlin-Tegel Photo: epd/imago

Christmas is already over for most of them. But many Orthodox Christians celebrate the feast only on the 6th day of the month. and 7. January. The birth of Jesus Christ falls on this night according to the old Julian calendar, which some Orthodox churches still recognize.

By the way, that this feast is celebrated in Berlin mainly by Russians is a legend. Because most Russian-speaking Berliners are not Orthodox Christians at all. The largest group of immigrants from Russia are ethnic German immigrants. And these are mostly Protestant, evangelical or non-denominational.

A second large group of immigrants from the CIS states are Jewish contingent refugees. On the other hand, many Orthodox Christians from other countries live in Berlin and celebrate Christmas this weekend. They come from Belarus, Serbia, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The also orthodox Greeks and Bulgarians have already on the 24. and 25. December is celebrated: Their churches have adopted the Gregorian calendar.

The 43-year-old Russian Anna A. celebrate their third christmas within two weeks this weekend. The German Christmas party on 24. December with goose, dumplings and gifts demand their children born here. A week later, on New Year’s Eve, there was the Russian Yolkafest with Father Frost, Russian fairy tale films and mayonnaise salad.

No matter what denomination

Conveniently, the Christmas tree could remain standing. This celebration was introduced in the Soviet Union as a replacement for the Christian Christmas, which was banned after the October Revolution, and has remained in many Russian families as the biggest celebration of the year – no matter what denomination you belong to, because it has no religious background anyway. "When I was a child, I always got a Christmas present on the 31st. December my gifts. And the whole family watched fairy tale movies," says Anna A.

More Christmas

Eritrean church service in the Lutheran Philippuskirche, Stierstrabe 17-19 in Friedenau:

Spreeweihe with the Greek Orthodox community : 6. January, 14.30 o’clock, House of World Cultures

Concert "Russian Christmas with the choir of the Don Cossacks, 6. January, 3 p.m., at the Russian House, 176-179 Friedrich St

As an Orthodox Christian, she now celebrates on 6. and 7. Christmas for the third time in January. "This year, I’m going to my relatives in Russia for this," says the woman who came to Germany in the 1990s to study and stayed. "In other years, this feast was a joint service followed by a meal in my church community in Berlin."Who is not Orthodox, says Anna A., I usually don’t celebrate again in January, or simply take the day as an opportunity to drink a lot of vodka.

In order to get the vacation for the trip to Russia starting this week, Anna A had to., who works in a hospital, by the way, is struggling. "Ten years ago, my bosses were still happy that I voluntarily take vacation at the beginning of January. Now many other colleagues from Serbia, the Middle East and Africa also want to have the day off. One notices that more orthodox Christians live in Berlin."

With good food – but without gifts

One of them is the Eritrean Freweyni Habtemariam. "The 6. The first thing we do on January is celebrate with a church service, followed by breaking the fast together in the parish," explains the interpreter. Before Christmas Eve, Eritreans gave up animal products for 40 days. Now they are allowed to eat meat and drink milk again, which is enjoyed extensively.

Theoretically, after the feast in church, the family would celebrate for three days, says Habtemariam: "With good food made of lamb and stuffed flatbread, with socializing and telling stories."A Christmas tree is just as much a part of the Eritrean Christmas as presents, she says.

But because the majority of Eritreans living in Berlin are single young men, the traditional family celebration also brings up a lot of melancholy and longing for their families. In asylum shelters, Eritreans celebrate in the common rooms and also invite friends who already have their own apartment and usually live alone there. Even Muslim compatriots don’t miss the opportunity to join in the celebrations – because it’s not often that people celebrate in refugee homes.

Orthodox Greeks had already on 25. December their Christmas. But that doesn’t keep her from celebrating again on 6. January, explains the Greek pastor Emmanuel Sfiatkos. "After all, this is the day of Jesus’ baptism." However, his community does not want to remain among themselves. "We invite all Berliners to celebrate the consecration of the Spree with us. After a 15-minute devotion, there is a mulled wine reception, food we have brought ourselves and time for meetings."

Also do without

Abstaining from animal products for the 40 days before Christmas has gone out of fashion among Greeks. Emmanuel Sfiatkos: "But -everyone can do it the way it’s good for them. Many people fast on single days, but not the whole time."

The Russian Anna A. Has never fasted before the Orthodox Christmas. "This had no tradition in my family. And if I had to give up animal products in Germany before the Orthodox Christmas, I wouldn’t be able to help myself to the other Christmas celebrations. No one I know does it that way."

But, according to Anna A.With so many Christmas celebrations, it wouldn’t be bad to do without once in a while."

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