Holy Icons and Events to Remember before Orthodox New Year

Circumcision of Jesus Christ

While New Year’s Day that marks the start of a new year is officially celebrated on January 1, many Eastern Orthodox Christians additionally celebrate Orthodox New Year, also known as the “Old New Year,” which is on January 14 according to the Gregorian calendar. As you know, before this date, the entire Orthodox Church celebrates one of the Twelve Great Feasts – The Theophany of Christ. However, there are also several other important events, saints, and holy icons to remember these days.

1. Circumcision of Jesus Christ (January 1st)

On the eighth day after the Nativity of Christ, He was circumcised in accordance with the Old Testament Law. This is when our Lord received His name – Jesus, which means “Savior.” Eastern Orthodox Church icons of the Circumcision are quite rare and usually depict the infant Christ lying between the Mother of God, Joseph, and priests, one of whom is holding a small knife. Besides, religious icon paintings of this type may also depict Saint Basil the Great, who is celebrated on the same day.

2. Saint Basil the Great (January 1st)

Saint Basil the Great was a prominent theologian and a leading churchman in the 4th century. He was born circa 330 in a pious and wealthy family in Caesarea of Cappadocia. Famous for his contribution to the ascetic movement, Saint Basil the Great had no other care than to defend holy Orthodoxy. In holy icons of saints, he is usually depicted as a middle-aged man with black hair and beard, a thin dark face, and high forehead, with a scroll or a Gospel in his hand.

3. Seraphim of Sarov (January 2nd)

Seraphim of Sarov was a Russian ascetic who is considered a wonder-worker. He was born in the town of Kursk in 1759. Seraphim of Sarov is probably one of the most easily recognizable saints in Eastern Orthodox icons due to a simple reason – many of Seraphim’s depictions were made during his lifetime.

4. Synaxis of John the Forerunner (January 7th)

John the Forerunner, the glorious Prophet, was the Baptizer of Jesus Christ. Since it is customary in the Orthodox Church to remember saints participated directly in the sacred event, the Synaxis of John the Forerunner is a day celebrated right after one of the Twelve Great Feasts – The Theophany of Christ. Religious icon paintings of this saint usually depict him with dark bushy hair and beard, wearing a mantle and chiton, and holding an unfolded scroll.

5. Theodosius the Cenobiarch (January 11th)

Saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch was an abbot, a monk, and a founder of the cenobitic monasticism. He was born in Mogarissos, a village in Cappadocia, and lived during the years of Leo of Thrace, who was Eastern Roman Emperor from 457 to 474. Eastern Orthodox Church icons of saints usually depict him as a balding man with a high forehead and a long white beard, holding an unfolded scroll in his hands.

Happy and Blessed New Year 2017!

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