How to conduct yourself in the Orthodox church

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  • Men take their hats off while women wear a head scarf.
  • Clothing needs to be “modest”, which is usually understood as longs skirts for women and no short sleeves.
  • No excessive or loud talking, especially during the service.
  • Avoid turning back to the altar or icons but don’t be obsessive about it.
  • Turn your mobile off.
  • Don’t hold your hands in the back as some babushkas may consider it a sign of disrespect.
  • If you need to take photos talk to one of the clergy or to women at the candle desk about doing it in a non-disturbing manner.
  • Icons are religious objects and are not intended to be bought  as souvenirs.
  • Very occasionally someone may show a strange reaction to a foreigner present in the church. Respond with a smile and “prostiteh” (“sorry”).
  • The atmosphere is a small-town church is usually easy. Relax and don’t be obsessive about doing something wrong.

You may want to see First Visit to an Orthodox Church by Frederica Mathewes-Green >>


Comments

How to conduct yourself in the Orthodox church — 2 Comments

  1. My dear, who wrote that?
    no shot sleeves – no shoRt sleeves

    during the mass – maybe Liturgy or Service?

    a strange reaction to a foreigner present – maybe presence?

    •No more than being modest – sounds strange at least for Russian ear

  2. I did. That was – and remains – a draft. “Mass” happens in the Catholic church, right? OK, let it be liturgy then. “Reaction to a foreigner present” is fine though. Think of it as “a foreigner **being** present”. “Foreign presence” will not fit here but you could say “the presence of a foreigner”. I’ve removed “not much more than being modest is expected” but am still looking for a way to say that Christianity, especially in its Orthodox variation, is less about rules and more about style, so visitors don’t need to be uptight. Don’t be picky about my typos, which are at times many. Instead, as an involved representative of a strict branch of the Orthodoxy please comment on the rules of conduct in the church. Think of what makes foreign travellers hesitate about entering a temple. I took several of them to the Rogozhsky refractory and they felt entirely comfortable there though.

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