The '''Nativity''' according to the flesh of our [[Lord]], God and Saviour [[Jesus Christ]], also called '''Christmas''', is one of the [[Great Feasts]] of the [[Orthodox Church]], celebrated on [[December 25]].
In the fullness of time, our Lord [[Jesus Christ]] was born to the Holy [[Theotokos]] and Virgin Mary, thus entering into the world as a man and revealing Himself to mankind.
According to the [[Bible]] and to [[Holy Tradition]], Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem in a cave, surrounded by farm animals and shepherds. The baby Jesus was born into a manger from the [[Theotokos|Virgin Mary]], assisted by her husband St. [[Joseph the Betrothed|Joseph]]. St. Joseph and the Theotokos were forced to travel due to a Roman census; the odd location of the birth was the result of the refusal of a nearby inn to accommodate the expecting couple ([[Gospel of Luke|Luke]] 2:1-20).
Though three [[magi]] from the East are commonly depicted as visiting during the event itself (or, in [[Roman Catholic]] tradition, twelve days thereafter), the Bible records the coming of an unspecified number of wise men as being a few years after Jesus' birth (see [[Gospel of Matthew|Matthew]] 2). In either case, these magi came bearing gifts of gold, [[frankincense]], and [[myrrh]] (Matt 2:11). In the hymnography for the feast, these gifts are interpreted to signify Christ's royalty, divinity, and suffering.
Though Jesus' birth is celebrated on December 25, most scholars agree that it is unlikely he was actually born on this date. The choice of December 25 for the Church's celebration of the Nativity is most likely to have been in order to squelch attendance at pagan solstice festivals falling on the same day.
==Celebration of the feast==
The Vigil of Christmas begins with Great Compline because Vespers has already been served. At Compline there is the singing of the [[Troparion]] and [[Kontakion]] of the feast with special hymns glorifying the Saviour's birth. There are also the special long litanies of intercession and the solemn blessing of the five loaves of bread together with the wheat, wine, and oil. The faithful partake of the bread soaked in the wine and are also anointed with the oil. This part of the festal vigil, which is done on all great feasts, is called in Slavonic the ''[[litya]]'' and in Greek ''[[artoklasia]],'' or the breaking of the bread.
The order of [[Matins]] is that of a great feast. Here, for the first time, the full Canon "Christ is born," is sung while the faithful venerate the [[Nativity icon]].
Eight days after the Nativity, is the feast of [[Circumcision of our Lord]].
of Christmas rejoicing extends to [[Theophany |Epiphany]] during which time the Christmas songs are sung and fasting and kneeling in prayer are not called for by the Church. Throughout this time, it is the custom of some Orthodox Christians to greet each other with the words: ''" '''Christ is Born! '''" '' and the response: ''" '''Glorify Him! '''" ''
[[Troparion]] (Tone 4) [http://oca.org/FStropars.asp?SID=13&ID=103638]
:The wise men journey with a star!
:Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!
*[http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?FSID=103638 The Nativity of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ] ([[OCA]])
saints/352 The Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ] ([[GOARCH]])
*[http://www.touchstonemag.com/docs/issues/16.10docs/16-10pg12.html Calculating Christmas - A differing opinion of the calculation of the date of Christmas]
*[http://www.comeandseeicons.com/festal/festal.htm#phf04 Icons of the Nativity of Christ]