It is Christmas Day today for Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was in the village of Istra near Moscow for Midnight Mass. Around two thirds of Russian Christians are members of the Orthodox Church.
In Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus, believers flocked to the Church of the Nativity. Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas joined the congregation. Greek Patriarch, Theofilos the Third presided over ceremonies. Earlier, an Orthodox Christmas tradition dating back to the Byzantine era took place in Istanbul in Turkey. Patriarch Bartholemew threw a crucifix into the Bosphorus, and divers raced to retrieve it.