In Russia we don’t celebrate Christmas on December, 25. (We do it later) So if it’s a weekday, we have to go to work. But by December, 25 there are Christmas trees in the streets, Santas in shop windows, and we can hear Jingle bells everywhere. So we feel holiday spirit.
It so fell out that New Year’s become the main winter holiday for most Russians. (Christmas used to be forbidden for some years in Soviet Russia.)
Russian New Year personages are Ded Moroz and Snegurotchka .
Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) is like Santa Claus, but he‘s more ancient, his beard is much longer and he wears a beautiful long fur coat (usually red or blue).
He lives in a Russian town called Veliky Ustyug. He drives in a three-white horses-sleigh.
He isn’t married but he’s got a granddaughter called Snegurotchka (Snowgirl).
They bring New Year presents to those who believe in them
On New Year Eve, families gather for a good blowout. Late in the evening, we give the old year a send-off and when the Kremlin clock begins beating, we open champagne and think of New Year wishes (they’ll come true if you think of them while the clock’s beating 12). Many people go then outside to have fun. When all go to bed in the end, we put the presents under the Christmas tree in secret from each other.
According to the traditions of Russian Orthodox Church, we celebrate Christmas on January, 7. Late at night, on Jan., 6 lots of people go to church (even those who usually don’t). The churches are beautifully decorated. There are Christmas trees inside and outside. And by the entrance there’s a model of crèche lit by candles. No musical instruments are used at divine service at Orthodox Church, choristers sing a cappella but it’s really DIVINE like angels singing! It’s one of the best services of the year (the best is at Easter)!
It’s often said that Christmas got commercialized. Well, I think all our life is commercialized; and everything depends on what is Christmas for you: Christmas shopping or Christmas carols.
New Year day and Christmas day are official holidays. but there’s one more holiday which is not official, though a lot of people feast it. On January, 14 we celebrate Old New Year. Puzzled? 😉 Well, Russia, like all the other countries, lives by Gregorian calendar. But Russian Orthodox Church abides by Julian calendar (that’s why we keep Christmas two weeks later) and by Julian calendar New Year is on Jan, 14. So we feast New Year twice!
Yes, we love celebrating ! 😀
Nowadays, I often hear that we should say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas not to offend anyone. I’m sorry, my dear friends, but that reminds me of communist Russia, when we weren’t allowed to say Merry Christmas to each other.
A year ago, on January, 6, I was going to church when I met three young men. I didn’t know them, I just knew that they were Muslims. It was late (about 11 at night), I was alone, so I got a bit worried. Suddenly, one of them said: “Merry Christmas!” and they all smiled. I said “Thank you!” and smiled back. For me these young men are the best examples of tolerance – when you aren’t offended by your neighbours celebrating their feasts but, on the contrary, are ready to share their happiness.