Orthodox Christians Want Their Break!

The Coptic orthodox church

The Coptic orthodox church

On 7 January, Coptic Orthodox Christians – who comprise 90 percent of Egypt’s Christian population – will break their 43- day fast and celebrate Christmas. Christmas all around the world is traditionally celebrated on the 25th of December. To allow students and all staff a break around this holiday, the week leading up to it is off from school. Orthodox public-school students do not have the luxury of having a day off to celebrate their Christmas, also known as “Little Christmas,” with their friends and families.

The difference in the dates is due to the difference in fact results from the use of a different calendar, not from any underlying theological disagreement. Although the exact date of Jesus’ birth was– and remains– unknown, within the first many centuries after his death, churches around the world agreed to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December (29 Kiahk in the Coptic timetable’).

Abouna Saweeres, a priest at St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church says he feels that “they should give schools the day off because it is an important holiday to us you know? We should spend it with our family not at school.” Christmas is an important holiday for everyone which is why Abouna says, “It’s very important for kids to come to church on Christmas instead of school because of our praising, our worship.”

Edward Pierre thinks that it is understandable that Roanoke County does not give students January 7th off. “Our celebration isn’t very well known so I don’t expect them to give the day off to students. It is however getting more and more well-known so I hope they will eventually notice and give the day off.” It’s not only Virginia that hasn’t given schools the 7th off but everyone else! Even schools in huge cities like New York and California still have not given students the day off even though a large portion of their students are Orthodox. “Again, I think for now it’s just a matter of them not realizing how many Orthodox students they have so they don’t find a need to take a day off for every student.”

The Orthodox religion doesn’t have any other days off for their holidays. So, the request for January 7th to be taken off should not seem excessive or needy, but instead just and right.