Anchorage, AK --

While many Americans celebrate Christmas every year on December 25th, for the Russian Orthodox Church the celebration takes place on January 7th. 

This afternoon the Alaska Native Medical Center hosted a Russian Christmas celebration — complete with the starring, refreshments and entertainment.

The celebration honors the birth of Jesus Christ which is celebrated on December 25th in the Secular Calendar, which falls on January 7th in the Julian Calendar followed by the church. Christmas is considered a high holiday by the Russian Orthodox Church, one of the 12 Great Feasts, and of only four feasts preceded by a period of fasting.

The Russian Christmas tradition has a long history in many Alaskan communities including Southcentral, Bristol Bay, the Aleutian Islands, Kodiak and Sitka. In the Aleutians, Russian Christmas can be tracked as far back as 1880.

"Peace on Earth and good will to men, that's really what we're trying to promote when we gather for Christmas," said Archbishop David Mahaffey of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

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