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24 Dec, 2009 18:46

Christmas Eve in full swing in Moscow

It is Christmas Eve, one of the most magical evenings for Christians around the world. And even though in Russia Orthodox believers mark the birth of Jesus Christ on January 7, there are many who are celebrating tonight.

Christmas masses are taking place in several cathedrals in the Russian capital.

In the Catholic Church of Immaculate Conception, the service started with beautiful fireworks. Christmas services will be held in the Russian and Polish languages on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. At midnight, the Head of the Catholic See in Moscow, Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, will celebrate the Christmas mass in Russian, Interfax news agency reported.

Deacon Kirill Gorbunov, who is attending the celebration, said that three masses are scheduled at the cathedral.

“We had fireworks, the procession to the crib… the church wants to engage people in joining these festivities in different ways,” he said.

“What we are celebrating today has a very solemn and sophisticated theological sense, but especially today you cannot help but feel like a child,”
Gorbunov added.

According to statistics from Russia’s Levada center, 4 percent of Russians are going to celebrate the Catholic Christmas. It is 2 percent lower than last year, and 12 percent less than in 2004. The decrease may be connected with the lengthy 10-day New Year vacations in Russia. Russians may be saving their energy for celebrations in the beginning of January, sociologists say.