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    MOSCOW, January 13 (RIA Novosti) - It has become a custom in Russia to celebrate the New Year (the so-called Old New Year) at midnight on January 13-14. This custom is connected with the Russian Orthodox Church which, jointly with the other four Autocephalous (independent) Orthodox Churches (Jerusalem, Georgian, Serbian and Antiochian), continues to mark the New Year and Christmas in accordance with the Julian calendar which differs from the generally recognized Gregorian calendar by 13 days. But beginning with March 1, 2100 this difference will amount to 14 days.

    However, deputy chairman of the foreign church relations department of the Moscow Patriarchate Vsevolod Chaplin said the Russian Orthodox Church does not intend so far to make amendments in its calendar.

    "It is true that the difference between the two calendars increases every 100 years when the number of hundreds in the year from the birth of Christ is not divisible by four. And if God allows this world to exist for another one hundred years, Orthodox believers will celebrate Christmas on January 8 and the New Year - at midnight on January 14-15," said Chaplin.

    According to him, one should not pay too much attention to the calendar differences. "The Gregorian calendar is not absolutely precise. For this reason the Russian Orthodox Church continues to use the Julian calendar," explained Chaplin.

    "An agreement in calendar disputes can be achieved only when a new, absolutely precise, calendar is worked out," concluded the spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate.

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