What is the Russian traditional on Christmas ? – History, Politics & Society


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Russians keep a different calendar to ours- they have remained with the old Julian calendar as oppose to our Gregorian one, so in Russia, Christmas is not celebrated until 7th January.

During the Communist period of 1917-91, Christmas was officially banned, although such was the need of the people for some sort of celebration to brighten the gloomy Winter months that shortly before his death, Lenin decreed there should be a ‘Winter Festival’, a non-religious event that involved light displays, present-giving and merry-making. Some religious services were held unobtrusively, although the authorities usually turned a blind eye to these, especially during the post-War years.


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  1. simplyme
    February 11, 2018 at 10:35 pm

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    However, both before and after the Communist era, Christmas is kept in a very similar manner to the way we keep ours in the West, but with one important exception- Christmas dinner. This is taken on Christmas EVE (6th January) as oppose to Christmas Day, and most people spend the day fasting in preparation for the meal.

    The dinner contains no meat, and starts with a form of porridge called ‘kutya’ that is often flavoured with poppy seeds. Christmas celebrations traditionally begin when the first star has appeared in the sky- Midnight Mass is held in churches and cathedrals across the land and is the most important service of the Russian Orthodox calendar, with massed choirs, lots of incense and a solemn religious humility amongst the churchgoers.

    Russians place much more emphasis on the religious aspect of Christmas than we do in the West, which is a good thing, as Christ’s birth is, after all, what it’s supposed to be all about!

    Religious devotions over, Christmas day is given over to merry-making and having fun, and is celebrated much as we celebrate ours, with decorations and lights, present-giving, and parties.

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