7 January 2016

Orthodox faithful mark Christmas with services, celebration

People dressed in traditional Russian clothes dance during the celebration of Orthodox Christmas in St.Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. Russian Orthodox believers celebrate Christmas by the Julian calendar on Jan. 7.
For much of the Orthodox Christian world, Thursday is celebrated as Christmas Day. Believers in Russia, Ukraine, and parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East flocked to churches for the holiday.
Some Orthodox churches follow the liturgical calendar observed by the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches and celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25.
A look at Christmas events throughout the world Thursday:

Epiphany celebrated in Orthodox Christian, Catholic nations

A man holds up the wooden cross after being the first to retrieve it, during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the water in Mytilene port on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. Similar ceremonies to mark Epiphany Day were held across Greece at the sea, rivers, lakes and dams. An Orthodox priest throws a cross into the water and the swimmers race to retrieve it first.
Wednesday is Epiphany, a major holiday in much of Orthodox Christianity celebrating the birth and baptism of Jesus. Religious services are held as well as Blessing of Water ceremonies at lakes, rivers and seafronts.
But in Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and other Orthodox countries that observe a different religious calendar, it is Christmas Eve. Roman Catholics and Protestants, meanwhile, celebrate the story of the Wise Men who followed a star to Jesus' cradle.
Here's a look at celebrations taking place on Wednesday: