While many people celebrate Christmas in December, those who follow the “old” or the Julian Calendar celebrate starting Saturday evening.
The difference in dates lies in history and the calendar.
In the west, many families adhere to the Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory in 1582.
But many people still use the Julian calendar – which was created by Julius Caesar in 45 BC., meaning Christmas Eve is Saturday night.
Orest Gawdyda is the past president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Regina.
He says a large number of families recognize this holiday as one based on tradition.
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“This is based more on history and tradition,” Gawdyda said. “It’s based on more celebrating as a family and celebrating the birth of Christ.”
Gawdyda says there often is confusion as to why some families celebrate Christmas at this time of the year.
But Gawdyda says there are many ways to explain the difference in dates.
“On the English calendar, you have all the Christmas carols leading up to Christmas day,” Gawdyda explained. “On the old calendar, Jesus isn’t born until Christmas day and then you start celebrating the Christmas. You don’t sing a Christmas carol until after January 6th.”
Gawdyda says Old Calendar Christmas Eve has many traditions.
“You set an extra place at the table for those who have passed,” Gawdyda said. “You put the candle in the window to let people know you’re home. You don’t eat until you see the first star. There are so many traditions that go along with it.”