Glory to God, the feast of the Holy Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour was celebrated with the usual solemnity and joy. For this we must be thankful to God and the efforts of the brethren and seminarians, who with diligence carried out all the usual preparations for the feast, by singing and reading in kleros, the preparation of the meals, the thorough cleaning of all the monastery and seminary buildings, and the reception and care of our many pilgrims.
The Eve of Nativity with the Royal Hours and the Vespers Liturgy of St. Basil was especially beautiful this year with many of the faithful in attendance. It is our monastery/seminary practice that all the brethren and seminarians partake of the Holy Mysteries both on the Eve and on the feast itself. At the end of the Liturgy on Monday, the Eve, we “glorified” the feast with the bringing out of the icon of the Nativity to the center of the church, singing the troparion and the kontakion, followed by the singing of the full Many Years.
Following the usual tradition, only one meal was served, when the first star “comes out,” around 5PM. Although we do not have twelve different dishes, we do have some of the special dishes associated with the “Holy Supper,” such as kolivo, compot, mushrooms, etc.
Meanwhile, some busy hands are occupied with the decoration of the church. A few days before, Fr. Innocent and his helpers, hang up lights in front of the monastery, along the parking lot and also at the main entrance. Days before, also with the help of neighbors wreaths and arrangements are put together for decorating the church, the several entrance ways to our buildings, and a tree is decorated for the trapeza.
Many pilgrims arrived for the All-Night Vigil of Nativity, availing themselves of the mystery of Confession. Our seminary/monastery choir sang with great solemnity under the direction of our choir director, Deacon Nicholas Kotar. Our abbot, Bishop Luke, presided at the Polyleos and headed the Divine Liturgy on the feast itself, as well as the next two days.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy on Holy Nativity, the usual meal of Aspic of Fish with the trimmings was served, followed by Vladyka’s traditional reception in his office. After a short moleben, Vladyka handed out treats to the children, and refreshments were offered to all. A few of our neighbors led everyone in singing some traditional Christmas carols, which added much to the joyful atmosphere.
On the second day, the Synaxis of the Theotokos, Vladyka served the Divine Liturgy as well as on the Third Day of Nativity, which is also the feast of St. Stephen
It must be also mentioned that it has become part of our tradition that Fr. Deacon Andrew Doubleday and his matushka, Sophia, held their usual Christmas reception in the afternoon of Holy Nativity day, to which all are invited, monastics, seminarians and neighbors. Besides many delicious, savory and sweet treats, the singing of traditional Christmas carols delights everyone and adds to the festal atmosphere of our extended community.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!