As the holiday season draws near, countries across the world prepare for Christmas in their own special way. Russia, in particular, has a rich and varied history when it comes to Christmas traditions. They are are quite distinct from what people usually associate with the holiday. Most of us may be familiar with Santa Claus, decorated Christmas trees, and gift-giving. There is much more to learn about how the people of Russia celebrate this special time of year. So, let’s dive into some fun facts about Christmas in Russia that are sure to pique your interest!
Dates and Celebrations
In Russia, the Christmas celebrations start on January 7th. This date marks an important and festive occasion, which is officially known as the ‘Orthodox Christmas.’ However, the celebrations don’t end there- as per ancient traditions. There’s another holiday observed on January 13th called ‘Old New Year’. People celebrate this holiday with all the traditional New Year’s Eve fare, including fireworks, parties, and festive food!
The Christmas Meal
In Russia, people celebrate the eve of the Orthodox Christmas with a 12-course meal – one course for each apostle! The meal usually features a wide variety of smoked and cured fish, roasted meats, vegetables, fruits, and sweets. One famous treat that sits at the center of this Christmas feast is Kutya. It is porridge made from honey, barley, and poppy seeds. Interestingly, Russians consider this meal incomplete without the exchange of gifts and a round of caroling afterward.
Rather than decorating with a traditional Christmas tree, Russians decorate a New Year’s Tree, known as a ‘Novogodnaya Yolka’. One unique decoration that appears on the tree is an ornamental sun, called a “Solntse” which symbolizes great happiness, warmth, and light. Additionally, you can see ornaments shaped like onions, toys crafted from wood and other natural materials, and even a miniature Russian “Matryoshka” dolls.
You may catch Russians doing something unusual on the Christmas night – they may go outside and make a wish under a falling star in the sky! This particular tradition is rather unique, and is called ‘zvezdolikaya letopis’ (falling star journal). Another Christmas superstition is that any ‘unmarried ladies’ who fast for four days before Christmas and stand at the crossroads after the Christmas service will see their future husband in their dreams.
Ded Moroz and Snegurochka
The Russian Santa Claus is called Ded Moroz, or Father Frost. He has a long white beard, wears a long blue or red robe with a matching hat, and carries a staff. Ded Moroz is accompanied by Snegurochka, meaning snow maiden, who wears a long blue or white dress and a furry cape or hat. Together, they make an appearance at children’s parties and bring some gifts.
Explore the enchanting world of Christmas traditions in Russia and continue expanding your cultural horizons this holiday season. Just as you delve into the intriguing customs like the 12-course meal and the appearances of Ded Moroz and Snegurochka, ensure that your children experience the magic of the season in a safe and controlled manner with Troomi Wireless. This social media-free smartphone for kids allows them to call safely and stay connected with parents while avoiding the distractions of social media. In the spirit of global learning, let’s embrace diverse traditions and provide our children with a secure and enriching festive experience.
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