BINGHAMTON, NY – While the Christmas season has passed for many of us, it is the prime of the season for one group.
NewsChannel 34’s James Atherlay shows us how the St. John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Johnson City celebrated the holiday today.
A choir sings and people pray.
The beautiful ickonast, or icon wall, overlooks all those in attendance.
At first glance, this specific ceremony doesn’t look unlike many other religious meetings.
The calendar shows Christmas, the Christmas season, and even the 12 days of Christmas are done.
But this group at the St. Johns Ukrainian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas today according to the old Julian Calendar, named for Julius Caesar.
Current Parish Council President Alfred Gorick says the 7th gives them an opportunity to focus on religion and be appreciative of Christ’s birth.
Parish Council President Alfred Gorick says, “On the 25th, we celebrate Christmas, and I think its a time to get together, a time of joy, presents, but I think that the 7th gives us an opportunity to concentrate on what the worth of our lord is in the world today. It’s all about religion and the great blessings we have. The 7th gives us a great separate day to do that.”
Yesterday, or the Julian calendar’s Christmas Eve, started with a fast, but finished with a gigantic dinner.
This large meal has 12 courses, each representing one of the 12 apostles of Christ.
This is called the Holy Supper.
People fast all day so they may have an empty stomach to tackle such a feast.
Former Parish Council President Stephan Wasylko says this night is about remembering those who are lost, and preparing future generations.
“When we even have our only supper, we set a plate aside, which we actually put food on, and that’s for the souls who are no longer with us. But we do remember those who came before us, and we hope the children will carry this tradition on after we’re long gone,” says Wasylko.
After the enormous feast, the congregation sets out to perform Christmas carols to local homes.
Usually, a bus is needed to haul all of the carolers.
Today though, the meal was far simpler.
Bread, fruit, potatoes, sausage, ham, desserts and drinks were all for the taking late this morning and into the early afternoon.
The parish had visitors come from a fair distance to attend festivities today, with some coming from Ithaca to be here.
The establishment’s next big event, according to the Julian calendar is on January 14th: New Years.