Jesus’ Circumcision Date: January 14
Jesus’ Circumcision is a religious observance for Coptic Orthodox Christians all over the world.
Coptic Orthodox Christians celebrate the circumcision of Jesus on the first day of the Julian calendar, which corresponds with January 14 on the Gregorian calendar until 2100. The date is chosen because it is the eighth day after the birth of Jesus, a date which is considered to be when the new born baby was circumcised and received the name Jesus, according to Jewish tradition.
History of Jesus’ Circumcision
According to the Law of Moses, all male children were to be circumcised on the eighth day after their birth. Mary and Joseph followed the Law and took their baby son to be circumcised. During the ceremony, their baby son received his name, Jesus, which means Savior.
To be circumcised is to be marked in the flesh as a son of Abraham. The ritual is called the Brit Milah, and a Jewish Rabbi will remove the baby’s foreskin with a small knife in the presence of all his family as witnesses of his entrance into the Jewish community. Its importance comes from the fact that on this day Jesus received his name, and therefore also his mission as savior. It also marks the first time that his blood was shed and salvation begun. It is not by coincidence that the two points occur together.
Jesus name was given to Joseph by angels that commanded him to name the child Jesus, and so Joseph did, the name a hint to all the wonders and what God had prepared for him, with the ultimate goal of salvation of humanity through his blood on the Cross. The fact that on this day his blood was shed for the first time was also a hint of how the salvation was to come to all of us through him, through his blood. For Eastern Orthodox Christians this day has more significance than for Western Christians who on the first day of the year, following the Gregorian calendar, do not celebrate the circumcision of Jesus and celebrate the feast of Mary, mother of Jesus.
Jesus’ Circumcision Traditions, Customs and Activities
The celebrations of this day are mostly intertwined with the celebrations of New Year for all Coptic Orthodox Christians that follow the Julian calendar. Most of the religious celebrations and customs related to the circumcision of Jesus are focused in the liturgy of the feast of the circumcision of Jesus. This liturgy is observed with a night-long vigil that aggregates three canonical hours of Vespers, Matins, and First Hour. Besides this, Coptic Orthodox Christians hold community meals with family and friends and set off fireworks in commemoration of the New Year. It is common in Coptic Orthodox Churches to display icons depicting the moment of the circumcision of Jesus with Mary and Joseph accompanying him.