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Christmas wishes for Christians from the east.



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Gary Hardgrave MP Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister

Media Release H001/2004 - 02 January 2004

Christmas Wishes for Christians from the East

The Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Gary Hardgrave, extended the compliments of the season to all those celebrating Christmas on January 7 according to the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic traditions.

Mr Hardgrave said Australia's cultural diversity was reflected in the fact that so many Australians were celebrating Christmas at this time.

He said that Eastern Christians in Australia would be joining others around the world in celebrating Christmas on 7 January. According to the Julian Calender, Christmas follows 13 days behind the Gregorian Calender celebrations of Christmas adhered to by most of Western

Christianity.

Much of the Orthodox world still follows the Julian Calender when it comes to religious festivities as indeed do many of the Eastern Rite Catholic churches. For many, the beginning of the Christmas celebrations mark the end of a period of fasting and reflection.

'Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth, and it is also a time for people to get together, a time to care and think about others,' Mr Hardgrave said.

Mr Hardgrave also wished to remind everyone of the importance of this time of the year.

'Religious freedom is an important part of Australian multiculturalism. Just as other religions celebrate their traditions, it is important for Christians to openly celebrate Christmas,' Mr Hardgrave said.

'Some Australians may be missing out on the core traditions of Christmas because many people are less inclined to express the traditional customs for fear of offending people of other religions. This is to misunderstand Australian multiculturalism, which is about sharing

our traditions.

'We would like all Australians to have such confidence in their cultural and religious traditions that they seek to showcase them and share them with others. In this way, we all contribute to mutual

understanding and community harmony.'

Media contact: Amanda Lynch 0419 123 862