By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
“We have no reason to change the church calendar. We are not discussing this issue at all” the Macedonian Church Synod spokesperson Metropolitan Timotej said.
Macedonia is one of a few predominantly Orthodox countries that celebrate Christmas 14 days after most of the Christian world, on January 7 instead of December 25.
The Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian churches also use the Julian calendar.
Orthodox Greece, Romania and recently Bulgaria have adopted the Gregorian calendar, bringing them into line with the Catholic and Protestant world.
They did so out of practical reasons. The change in these countries has met resistance. In Greece, some religious hard-liners still defy the change and continue following the old calendar.
Few years ago a group of Macedonian businessman sent a letter to the Macedonian Church leadership asking them to change the calendar for practical reasons.
They complained that their businesses suffered from the discrepancy between the holiday in Macedonia and the rest of Europe.
Archbishop Stefan replied in a diplomatic manner, saying that he would wish to see a “joint calendar for all Christians, Orthodox or Catholic alike”.
Sources from the Skopje-based Faculty of Theology told Balkan Insight that the issue remained highly sensitive for the Orthodox Church.
Although a change in the calendar might have a practical benefit many local religious officials and scholars would see it as a betrayal of tradition.