“I wish Apostolic, Orthodox and Eastern Christian communities a very happy Christmas.

“The incarnation of God as man is at the centre of the Christian faith, and is why the holy day of Christmas has been central to the lives of Christians for 2,000 years. Those celebrating on January 7, according to the Julian calendar, remind us that the Christian faith has its roots in the East, just as Western churches mark the coming of the Magi from the East on Epiphany.

“Alberta’s spiritual and cultural life has been enriched immeasurably by Byzantine Christian communities for more than a century. The onion-domed churches that dot Alberta’s landscape are a beautiful testament to the beautiful and unique ritual culture of Eastern Christians who have done so much to build our society.

“Living as we are with public health measures designed to save lives, this Christmas will be a quieter and simpler time. May that simplicity remind you of that first Christmas in Bethlehem.

“I wish those celebrating Christmas this week a joyful feast, and best wishes for the year ahead.”