MOSCOW, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday extended congratulations to Orthodox Christians and all Russian citizens celebrating Christmas by the old Julian calendar, according to a greeting message published by the Kremlin.
"This happy holiday brings joy and hope to millions of believers as they feel closer to their spiritual roots and national traditions, united through eternal Christian values and our nation's centuries-long historic and cultural legacy," Putin said in the message.
The president praised the efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations in supporting civil society and developing dialogue between religious and ethnic communities.
He also spoke highly of their significant contribution to promoting lofty moral values, educating the younger generation and addressing social issues.
"I wish all Orthodox Christians and everybody celebrating Christmas health, success and happiness," Putin said.
Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate Christmas Day annually on Jan. 7 according to the Julian calendar, two weeks after most western Christian churches do by the commonly used modern Georgian calendar.