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December 20, Forefeast of the Nativity of our Lord

The Forefeast of the Nativity of our Lord.
The Forefeast of the Nativity of our Lord.

The Forefeast of the Nativity of our Lord begins on December 20. From now on, most of the liturgical hymns in Greek Orthodox Churches worldwide will be concerned with the birth of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Many of the Church’s hymns of this period are slightly modified versions of the hymns of Holy Week.

From the 20th to the 23rd we sing the Troparion (Tone 4):

“Prepare, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened to all. Adorn yourself, O Ephratha, for the Tree of Life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave. Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the fruit divine; if we eat of it we shall live forever and not die like Adam. Christ is coming to restore the image which He made in the beginning.”

Europe's largest Christmas Nativity Scene located in Thessaloniki
2020’s largest Christmas nativity scene in Europe is located in Thessaloniki.

We also sing the Kontaion (Tone 3):

“Today the Virgin comes to the cave where she will give birth past understanding to the Word from all eternity. Rejoice, O universe, when the tidings are proclaimed. Glorify, with the angels and shepherds, the one Who chose to be manifest as a newborn Child, while remaining the eternal God.”

December 20, Forefeast of the Nativity of the Lord
December 20, Forefeast of the Nativity of the Lord.

At Vespers on this first day of the prefeast we sing, “Let us celebrate, O people, the prefeast of Christ’s Nativity; let us raise our minds on high, in spirit going up to Bethlehem….”

(Sticheron on “Lord, I Call.”)

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