Nowadays, most countries use the Gregorian calendar and the beginning of the new year is celebrated on January 1. Celebrating New Year in Serbia, or Yugoslavia, became particularly significant after the end of the Second World War when the attempted extermination of the importance that a large part of the Christian population from this region attached to the celebration of Christmas, so that the attention was then focused on then the less celebrated and unpopular calendar "New Year".
At its meeting on 25 December 2009, the Holy Synod made a number of decisions concerning the external work of the Russian Orthodox Church. Regarding the Patriarch Kirill's report on his visit to Azerbaijan for the 30th anniversary of the Caucasus Muslim Board Chairman Allahshuqur Pasha-zade's being in the capacity of sheikh-ul-Islam and his meeting there with Patriarch-Catholicos Iliya II of All Georgia, it was agreed that the meeting was important for strengthening and developing fraternal relations between the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches. As had been agreed with the head of the Georgian Church, the Holy Synod resolved that Archimandrite Roman (Lukin), Moscow diocese, be sent to Tbilisi for pastoral care of Russian-speaking believers and be charged with representing the position of the Russian Orthodox Church as needed. With regard to the talk that Patriarch Kirill had with Azerbaijani President Ildar Aliev, it was agreed to develop cooperation with the Azerbaijani authorities. Gratitude was expressed to Allahshuqur Pasha-zade for the warm welcome in Baku and importance of strengthening relations with the Muslim Board for the Caucasus was noted.
As the Christmas and New Year Holidays draw near, it is time for all Serbian children living in Australia and New Zealand to think about attending Summer Camp at our St. Sava Monastery in Hall, New South Wales. Here, at our beautiful Summer Camp, the campers will have a chance to spend a week worshipping, praying, studying our Orthodox Christian Faith, learning to sing both church and folk songs, to dance Serbian dances, arts and crafts, sports, visitations to local sites and week filled with rich and rewarding experiences!
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received His Excellency Yves Leterne, the Prime Minister of Belgium, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on December 30, 2009.
Before his departure from the Phanar, the Belgian Prime Minister toured the Patriarchal Church of St. George and finally said: "It was very interesting to visit the roots of the Christian faith in this region of the world. The Orthodox Church is one of those roots, binding together the whole society."
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, locum tenens of Patriarchate throne, His grace vicar Bishop Atanasije of Hvosno, during the Divine Liturgy at the Church of Sinaxis of Serbian Saints in Karaburam, awarded archpriests Radomir Radovanovic, the head of the church of St. Nicholas in Visnjica; Radenko Zivaljević, the head of the church of St. Stefan in Veliko Selo, and Ilija Rosic, parish priest of the church of the Sinaxis of All Serbian Saints in Karaburmi, with the right to wear the pectoral cross. Also, Bishop Atanasije, with the blessing of Metropolitan Amfilohije, awarded presbyters Milan Lucic, Rada Simic and Djordje Dragutinovic with a rank of protopresbyter.
The first ever Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Archbishop Innokenty of Korsun in Castelo Branco, Portugal, during his pastoral visit to Portugal on December 23-27. Surrounded by dense forests, this city has seen only Orthodox prayer services. Sometimes there were evangelizing talks organized through the efforts of the Moscow Patriarchate community in Lisbon. The city is located 200 km away from the Portuguese capital. There are many Orthodox Christians, economic immigrants from Eastern Europe, who just as the locals are engaged in sheep breeding, horticulture and cultivation of olives.