In one-fourth of the cities, towns and villages in Alaska, Saturday was the day to say "Merry Christmas" for the Russian Orthodox believers who adhere to an old calendar.

Alaska is the only diocese of the Russian Orthodox church in the United States that still follows the Julian calendar, replaced by the common Gregorian calendar in most of the Christian world more than four centuries ago.For 87 parishes in an arc across southern Alaska, Saturday's late morning daylight started the long Christmas holiday that began with services, a feast, "starring," gift-giving and two weeks of festivities.

The Rev. Joseph Kreta of St. Herman's Theological Seminary in Kodiak estimated that 15,000 faithful in Alaska celebrate Christmas according to the old calendar.