Christmas is the second most important religious holiday after Easter. Orthodox Christians mark it on January 7.
Along with Russian Christians, the Jerusalem Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, monasteries on Mount Athos and some Protestants who use the Julian calendar celebrate Christmas on January 7.
The gifts of the three Wise Men to the newborn Jesus have been brought to Russia from Greece's Thessaloniki on the eve of Orthodox Christmas.
The relics have left the Agiou Pavlou (St. Paul's) monastery on Mount Athos in Greece for the first time since the 15th century. They are accompanied by a delegation led by Archimandrite Parfeny (Mourelatos) who has been living in Athos for more than 50 years. At the Vnukovo-3 airport, the delegation was welcomed by representatives of Moscow city government, the Russian Orthodox Church and heads of the Fund of Saint Basil the Great who have organized the Gift's trip to Russia.
The relics, which include gold, frankincense and myrrh will be on display at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. untill January 13.
Legend has it that shortly before her death, Virgin Mary gave the gifts to two righteous women. Later on, these relics were brought to Byzantium and after the Turkish conquest in 1453, they were taken to Mount Athos by a Serb nun Mary.
(voiceofrussia.com – hungarianambiance.com)