I wish you a blessed feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos!
Michigan State University hosts a site dedicated to images of the Theotokos in Byzantine iconography; you may read about the Natvity of the Theotokos icon.
Here is a Russian video with icons and hymns:
When I was in Jerusalem last year, I visited the Basilica of Saint Ann from the Crusader period and the neighboring Orthodox monastery of Saint Anna. Both claim to be upon the home of Joachim and Anna where the Theotokos was born. The complex may connect underground; so they both could be right. Regardless, the local tradition marks the Virgin Mary’s birth near the Gate of Saint Stephen, also called the Lions’ Gate. The Crusader basilica was built upon a former church, the Basilica Sanctae Mariae ubi nata est. Even in Latin, that is unwieldy; nouns make better church names than clauses. Other scholars think that the Theotokos may have been born in Galilee, in Nazareth or in nearby Tzippori, as Joachim and Anna had a familial or residential connection to the area. Bethlehem is another contender as well as a small village near Bethlehem where Joachim and Anna are thought to have lived at one point before or after the birth of the Theotokos. However, the Jerusalem tradition is probably the oldest, and there has been a liturgical celebration of the Virgin’s birth there since late antiquity.
Happy New Year to all Orthodox Christians! I hope that the upcoming year is blessed.
During my break, Kristor initiated an edifying discussion about the Eucharist on the Orthosphere: “The Bread of Heaven.” I highly recommend it; do not forget about the comments.
Kristor may be an Anglican, but he thinks like an Orthodox Christian in many ways.