Monaco's Orthodox Christmas Celebration Honors Bulgarian Heritage

€32,000 Collected at the 5th Orthodox Christmas Gala!

Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Friday, 19/01/2024 – Annually, the Orthodox Church of Monaco - Saint Empress Elena’s Parish hosts a grand gala dinner in line with the Orthodox Christmas traditions according to the old Julian calendar, which falls 13 days post Western Christmas. This event pays tribute to an Orthodox nation each year, showcasing the spiritual and cultural essence of the selected country in Monte-Carlo to both local residents and visitors. The 5th edition of the Orthodox Christmas Gala, honoring Bulgaria, was celebrated on January 12, 2024, at the opulent Salle des Arts in One Monte-Carlo, gathering €32,000.

The Gala commenced with a Christmas prayer service led by His Grace Irenei, Bishop of London and Western Europe, at the Orthodox Church of Monaco – Saint Empress Elena’s Parish located at 22, av de Grande-Bretagne. This was followed by a ceremonial walk to the Place du Casino. Upon arrival, guests were welcomed with a champagne reception before enjoying a sumptuous Bulgarian feast prepared by the internationally acclaimed Bulgarian chef, Andre Tokev, who specially traveled from Sofia, Bulgaria. He collaborated with the finest chefs from SBM to deliver an exquisite Bulgarian culinary experience.

Distinguished guests, including Mr. Guillaume Rose on behalf of the President of the National Council, Mrs. Brigitte Boccone-Pagès, the Mayor of Beausoleil, Gérard Spinelli, and a group of approximately forty visitors from Bulgaria, indulged in a Christmas menu paired with the finest wines and spirits from the Balkan nation. The evening was enhanced by performances from the most celebrated Orthodox choir of the Slavic nation and the popular singer Olla.

The €32,000 raised during the event, through a prestigious auction by Sotheby's, will be primarily donated to the Croix Rouge Monegasque for a targeted project aimed at supporting sports activities for underprivileged children associated with the Bulgarian Red Cross.

The event's ambiance was further enriched by well-known bloggers and influencers, with the festive decor supplied by Art Balloons Monaco. The Flower One provided luxurious floral arrangements and table decorations. Technical support was offered by Vektor X, and Trust Events played a crucial role in coordinating the service providers, ensuring a professionally organized evening.

The celebration’s success was also due to the significant backing from the Bulgarian business sector, the Geneva-based Banque Eric Sturdza, and the Monaco caviar house “Amura”.

“Following our previous success in celebrating Serbia, choosing Bulgaria was a perfect continuation, highlighting another Orthodox, Slavic, and Balkan nation, distinct in its cuisine, culture, and music. We are immensely grateful to our parishioners and generous donors for their contributions to this inaugural auction, benefiting our parish of Saint Empress Elena, the Red Cross, and Bulgaria,” remarked Alexander Hagerty, Founding-President of the Orthodox Church of Monaco – Saint Empress Elena’s Parish. “We’ve already selected the honored country for the 6th edition in January 2025, which will include a significant economic delegation from the respective country, enhancing the religious, diplomatic, cultural, and touristic ties with the Principality,” added Mr. Hagerty.

The Orthodox Church of Monaco – Saint Empress Elena’s Parish – distinguished as the principality's first Orthodox church recognized by the Monegasque government in 2017, is part of the ROCOR. Father Evgeny Nikitin, the head priest, conducts all sacraments, including Divine Liturgy, every Saturday at 09:00 at their worship location at: 22, av de Grande-Bretagne, Monte-Carlo.