Most believers in the Eastern Orthodox Church prepare for Christmas with 40 days of fasting, continuing right up until late on Christmas Eve Jan 6th. Traditionally, when the first star appears on Christmas Eve Eastern Orthodox Christians will break their fast with a celebratory meal.
Also on Christmas Eve, traditionally Orthodox Christians will cut a branch from a tree and bring it into their home, as a symbol that Jesus is entering their house and their hearts. A prayer and blessing will be said before the Christmas Eve feast begins, and the head of the family will greet each person present with the traditional Christmas greeting of ‘Christ is born’ to which the response is ‘Glorify him!’. Then the bread will be torn by hand and shared with all present. Some families will have straw scattered around the table, as a reminder of Jesus’s birth in the manger.
On Christmas Day, Orthodox Christians will attend divine liturgy, which will usually be a little longer than usual due to being an exceptional religious holiday. It is traditional to light candles in honor of Jesus, as light of the world. Afterwards people walk in procession to a sea, lake or river.The water will be blessed as part of an outdoor ceremony, and some people will take the blessed water back to their homes.