ANCHORAGE, Alaska — You've probably tossed out your Christmas tree and taken down the lights -- but the Russian Orthodox Church just started its holiday season Thursday.
The church follows the Julian calendar, where Christmas lands on Jan. 7. It's a celebration steeped in tradition and symbolism.
Shortly before the stars begin to twinkle above Anchorage, a small group gathers to watch. But the star these people are looking for is a little brighter, and only comes out once a year -- a symbol of the holiday church members bring to others' homes, in a tradition called starring.
"They twirl the star to greet the families with the joy of the birth of Christ," said Father John Zabinko. "Traditionally here in Alaska an elaborate star is prepared, and they carry the star to the home."
The songs lead the congregation through its celebration, telling the tale of Christ from his birth in a manger to the angels singing his praise.