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Russian patriarch celebrates orthodox Christmas Mass

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Orthodox Christians all over Russia marked Christmas Eve on Friday (January 6) as senior politicians attended a number of ceremonies. Russian media estimated that 5,000 worshippers attended Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, as churches around the country carried out services. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana could be seen at the Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which was broadcast on national television. Russian Orthodox tradition demands worshippers start celebrating Christmas at the night Mass, leaving the family celebration at home, gifts and Christmas meals for the next day. The divine liturgy lasts several hours till early morning. Orthodox midnight Mass concludes a four-week fast during which Christians confess their sins and receive communion. In Russia, Christmas is celebrated exactly 13 days after Western Christmas, because in the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian Orthodox Church decided to stay with the old Julian calendar, which lags almost two weeks behind the new Gregorian calendar of most other Christians. The Russian, Georgian Orthodox, Serbian and Jerusalem churches, Athos monasteries, some Protestants and some Catholics celebrate Christmas on January 7 according to the Julian calendar.

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