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What’s Orthodox Christmas? The festival tennis star Djokovic celebrated alone in Australia hotel

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic is currently in immigration detention in Australia over a controversy surrounding Covid vaccination.

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New Delhi: Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic, ranked No. 1 in the sport, spent Orthodox Christmas at an immigration detention hotel in Australia Friday as he sought to compete in the Australian Open and fend off deportation over the country’s Covid-19 rules.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Thursday announced that the tennis player’s visa to enter the country was canceled due to lack of evidence for a medical exemption to its Covid-19 vaccine requirements. His appeal against the cancellation of his visa has been adjourned until 10 January.

Djokovic is an Orthodox Christian by faith, and that is why he observed Christmas on 7 January. The reason for the divergence can be attributed to the use of different calendars by the two schools. 

Also Read: Novak Djokovic can be the GOAT of tennis. But he won’t be loved like Nadal and Federer

What is Orthodox Christmas?

Christian denominations like Catholicism and Protestantism celebrate Christmas on 25 December to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. However, Orthodox Christians celebrate the occasion on 7 January.

This is because the Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar, which is currently 13 days behind the newer Gregorian calendar, the one that is used around the world. Therefore, 25 December on the Gregorian calendar is 7 January by the Julian calendar.

The Gregorian Calendar was adopted by the Pope in the 16th century, while the Orthodox Church continued with the Julian calendar, which dates back to the time of Julius Caesar (100 BCE-44 BCE).

Orthodox Christians avoid consuming meat, eggs, dairy or alcohol for 40 days leading up to Christmas and then fast on Christmas Eve. A feast is usually held on Christmas Day.

Kulebyaka, a pie with salmon and onion filling, and Pirozhki, buns filled with meat, and a bowl of dried mushroom soup are usually eaten by Orthodox Christians living in Russia and Slavic countries on this occasion.

There are approximately 260 million Orthodox Christians globally. It is the dominant religion in eastern European countries like Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, as well as Serbia, Greece and others.

What is the Orthodox Church?

The Orthodox Catholic Church, also referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is traditionally based in modern-day Istanbul, or erstwhile Constantinople.

According to a DW report, in its first thousand years, this sect coexisted with the Roman Catholic Church. Due to theological and political tensions, however, the two split, causing what is known as the “Great Schism” in 1054 AD. 

The Orthodox Church is organised into a group of self-governing churches, many of which carry the title of patriarchate. The leading authority is the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, currently occupied by Bartholomew I. 

He does not wield the kind of power enjoyed by the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church, but rather serves as a symbolic head and is viewed by his followers as a “first among equals”, the DW report adds.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

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