It’s Christmas time again!  No, 2012 hasn’t gone by that fast.

“Thirteen days after Western Christmas, on January 7th, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates its Christmas, in accordance with the old Julian calendar. It’s a day of both solemn ritual and joyous celebration.” [Quote Source: Russian Crafts].

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that my grandmother, although baptized  Greek Catholic, and raised in that faith, had joined the Russian Orthodox church (St. Nicholas) as an adult.  This was long after she arrived in America and settled in Pennsylvania.

As a result, we always had two Christmases in my family.  Because  it  was  more  universal, our family would have a big celebration on December 25th, which included the secular traditions  of a Christmas tree and Santa Claus, but also observe the January 7th Christmas with my grandmother.  In later years, when my grandmother’s health was failing and she could not attend the services in person, she often listened to them on the radio (there was a church that did a broadcast).  We would listen with her.

Observing the religious rituals meant we also got to enjoy the wonderful foods of the Vilija (Christmas Eve) supper twice as well.  More mushroom soup, more bobalky, more pirohy, more everything….yum! My poor grandmother (and mother too) seemed to be cooking for four weeks straight!  But those were very special times!

As it happens, January 7th is also my Auntie Sr. M. Camilla’s birthday (see my very first “Catholic Gene” post “My Auntie: Christ’s Career Woman and Our Family Historian”).  She would have turned 94 today.

Luckily, I have a freezer, and a microwave, so today I will be heating up the remainder of the mushroom soup and pirohy I stashed away after December 24th, and will play my Slovak Christmas carols one more time.  And I will remember my grandmother, and my Auntie–two of the most faithful people I have ever known–as I once again celebrate the true meaning of Christmas in my heart.