This year, the celebration of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ in Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY was festive as usual, however without the snow that usually typifies the feast.
Royal Hours were served on Friday morning, January 6, with a small break before Bishop Luke of Syracuse (vicar of the Eastern American Diocese and monastery abbot) was met at the doors of the church for the beginning of the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. At the end of Liturgy, as is traditional, the icon of the Nativity was brought out of the altar and placed in the middle of the church with a candle placed behind it, with the singing of the troparion and the kontakion of the feast for the first time, thus starting the solemnity of the feast.
This was followed by a rest for some and a lot of activity for others, who proceeded to decorate the church with flowers and wreathes. The one meal of the day, served when the first star appears in the sky, was at 5:00 PM. Although the monastery brethren do not serve the traditional twelve dishes, traditional food included boiled wheat, compote of dried fruits, mushrooms, and so on.
At 7:00 PM, All-Night Vigil was served with great solemnity and the chanting of special joyous hymns. The church was filled with a great number of the faithful.
The following morning, Saturday, January 7, the very day of the great feast, the meeting of the bishop took place at 9:00 AM, followed by the start of Divine Liturgy. At the Little Entrance, Priest John Boddecker (monastery cleric) was awarded the right to wear the kamilavka for his great dedication to his duties as a seminary instructor.
Upon conclusion of Liturgy, the monastery had its traditional meal of aspic of fish with several other delicious dishes. Following the luncheon, Bishop Luke invited all to his quarters for a festal reception. This began with a short moleben, after which all were treated to savory and sweet treats. The children were given special gifts by His Grace, who stood by a beautifully decorated tree in his dining room. Thus started Holy Nativity in the monastery, which continues throughout the next few days with two more hierarchal Liturgies.