A Russian Christmas - S Rozhdestvom!
In our series of articles over Christmas, we look at how Yule time is celebrated across the continent and the differences in each country, next stop we've stepped just outside Europe to Russia...
By Anastasia Konstain
с рождеством or in western alphabet S Rozhdestvom! – Merry Christmas!
While most countries will be celebrating Christmas on December 24 or 25, Russia on the other hand, celebrate the Orthodox Christmas later on January 7.
Beginning in the 10th century, Russia has had a long history when it comes to Christmas.
As religious celebrations were not acknowledged during Soviet times, Christmas was always a private family event, whereas the New Year was the official winter celebration.
Only in 1991 was Christmas constitutionally accepted as an official holiday.
As New Year is one of the biggest celebrations for all Russians, respectively, it is still considered just as important as Christmas, and festivities continue all the way through mid-January.
In every city and village, you will see the Russian version of Santa Claus, Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost), and his granddaughter Snegurochka (the Snowmaiden) welcome the New Year by visiting houses and giving presents to all the children.
On January 6, during Christmas Eve, both children and adults visit houses to sing carols and sprinkle grain for best wishes. This is a common tradition called the Kolyada, for which the carol singers receive candy and small amounts of money in return.
One of the grandest parts of Christmas is, of course, the giant tree in Moscow's Red Square where millions of people come to visit it. Also, every year, huge ice-skating rinks are placed in Red Square as well as throughout Moscow, and all over Russia.
A typical Russian Orthodox Christmas is mainly focused on the spirit and celebration with family and friends, so presents are usually gifted on New Year’s Eve. On Christmas Eve, a church service is usually performed for members of the Orthodox Church.
For all Russian celebrations, one of the most important parts is having a huge selection of various foods and, well… more food.
So, during Christmas, you will see it all: pork, stuffed goose and duck, rabbit, fish, marinated vegetables and many other traditional dishes.
Pirogi (big baked pies) and Pirozhki (baked or fried buns) are a must, and include hundreds of different fillings, both savory and sweet.
After satisfactorily filling up stomachs, most families sit down to watch television, and then get up to eat some more last minute snacks. On January 7, the process begins all over again.
After all, it’s Christmas - S Rozhdestvom!
► See complete dossier: How Christmas is celebrated across Europe
Do not miss the news - sign up to receive the wort.lu newsletter in English delivered to your inbox six days a week.