Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-01-07 07:20:51
On Tuesday 7 January, Coptic Orthodox Christians – who comprise 90 percent of Egypt's Christians – will break their 43-day fast and celebrate Christmas. The festival comes almost two weeks after most Western denominations, including Catholics and Protestants, held their celebrations on 25 December.
Ahram Online asked Bishop Abram of the Fayoum Diocese to explain why there was a difference in the dates; he stressed that the difference in fact results from the use of different calendars, not from any underlying theological dispute.
Although the exact date of Jesus' birth was -- and remains -- unknown, within the first few centuries after his death, churches around the world agreed to celebrate the nativity of Jesus Christ on 25 December (29 Kiahk in the Coptic calendar), most probably to replace the pagan feast celebrating the Roman winter solstice which continued to be observed until then.
Bishop Abram argues that celebrating the birth of Christ, considered by Christians to be "the light of the world" is also astronomically apt, since night-time begins to shorten and daylight to lengthen in the middle of December.
The different dates of the celebration in the modern period are a result of a change in calendar; while Western churches follow the Gregorian calendar, Orthodox churches continue to follow the older Julian calendar (named after Julius Caesar who introduced it in 46 BC), which in turn is in line with the ancient Coptic calendar.
Until the Julian calendar, the date of 25 December and 29 Kiahk in the Coptic calendar happened on the same day each year. But the introduction of the Gregorian calendar changed this alignment. More»