Christmas continues for Orthodox Christians

The holiday festivities may be over for many but Orthodox Christians are celebrating Christmas on Tuesday with family and a feast.

Many Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar, which is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar and marks January 7 as Christmas Day.

Among the festivities, a Blessing of the Waters was held at Frankston on Monday. Eight divers raced to retrieve a blessed cross thrown into the water. The event normally falls on a warm summer day but this year's cold conditions saw a smaller turnout than usual.

''The lucky one who caught the cross gets a lot of honour bestowed to him and it brings good luck to him for the rest of the year,'' organiser Timothy Gemetzis said.

After a frantic scramble, Nathan Taylor, 31, emerged with the cross. He said: ''The weather wasn't ideal. There was a bit of competition out there today. I just jumped in the scrum, found the cross and picked it up.''

Throughout Melbourne, Orthodox Christians spent Monday preparing a feast to be shared with family.

Coptic leader Bishop Suriel said there were about 100,000 Orthodox Christians in Victoria, with many originating from Greece, Russia, Serbia, Egypt and Lebanon.

He expected more than 20,000 to attend the Coptic Orthodox Church on Monday night across its 12 locations. Attendees then returned home to break their 43-day fast with a big meal.

The story Christmas continues for Orthodox Christians first appeared on The Age.

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