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How do Russian people celebrate Christmas and New Year?

In a quite different way from your celebration! I am 100% sure. It would be interesting to invite you to Russia for these holidays. Sadly, you can’t come here this year? Well, then, let me tell about the Russian way to celebrate New Year and Christmas.  

First of all, I want to note that Christmas is celebrated in January 7 in Russia. I wrote about it in the last newsletter. It is concerned with the fact that Orthodox world lives according to old calendar. Orthodox calendar is two weeks behind.

The majority of Russian population is Christians and Moslems. Few people belong to other religions and it is exotic for Russia. Moslem New Year is celebrated in spring.

So, on December 25 there are no special celebrations in Russia. We can watch in TV news what happens on this day in Europe, America, Australia. Those who have friends and acquaintances abroad, probably, celebrate this holiday, but only because it means a lot for their friends.

This day, as well as 7 days after it up to December 31 are workdays. Official days off are January 1,2 and 7. The 31st of December is officially a workday, but on this day the stuff of many plants, factories and companies gather together around the festive table and see the old year off. (Our team will also sit around the festive table in some restaurant. We will toast to you, I promise!)

Main celebrations in our country take place at night from December 31 to January 1. By this day fir trees are decorated in houses, women make food. If you come for New Year to Russia some day, take a reserve stomach with you :)). So much food is made on this day that it is possible to feed the company of soldiers. No wonder: Russian people love delicious dinners. Besides, on these days people enjoy visiting each other and all visitors are necessarily fed to the full!

By 11 pm all the tables are covered, tall wine glasses are and Champagne are ready to be filled. I can say without any exaggeration that it is the main holiday of the country! All people are dressed smartly and some companies of young people even wear fancy dresses. For instance, one of the companies of friends I know is going to dress in the style of 20-30ies this year. :))

Before meeting New Year, it is necessary to see the Old one off!  On this day it is customary to remember everything good that happened this year, sum up results that were achieved.

The president of the country prepares a special speech addressing to the country and makes it 10 minutes before New Year on all TV channels. In Moscow on the Red Square there is a tower with enormous clock that is called “Kuranti” (Chimes). The President ends his speech one minute sharp before the first strike of the Chimes.

While the Chimes striking, fireworks burst outside, all people clink glasses with Champagne and think of wishes, kiss, hug and wish Happy New Year to all relatives and friends. After that all exchange gifts.

Some people don't celebrate New Year at home, but on city squares. But it is impossible to spend a lot of time there, the climate doesn’t allow it.

Some people go out of the city, to holiday houses. Then the rich New Year table turns into shashlik (barbeque). But most people still stay at the city.

Celebration goes on till morning. At this night it is very difficult to call through to the relatives living in other towns. Our country is very big, that’s why members of one family can be thousands kilometers away from each other. And all try to ring each other, no wonder that telephone networks can’t cope! :))

Morning January 1, the city looks lifeless. If you resisted badly and drank too much, then your head seems cast-iron! It is not a myth that Russians love to drink! :) January 2 is also a day off and it is very humane of the government! :))

On January 3 the talks are only about how the holidays were celebrates and what gifts were made. But it is necessary to pull yourself together to distract from a holiday mood and work till January 7.

Christmas is celebrated at night the 6-7th of January. It is a new, or more precise renewed holiday for us.  Communists taught that God didn’t exist. Many churches were plundered and ruined. Those that remain were used for public needs. For instance, for a very long time, up to the last year, students of the Institute of Aviation got knowledge in Catholic Church! :)

I write it to emphasize that the religious consciousness in our country is very weak still. We celebrate Christmas, recollect stories about the birth of Jesus Christ, but not so many people go to church at this night. And there is a very beautiful religious service there that ends in general rejoicing.  

When you are in Russia, do visit Russian Orthodox churches! Especially those that have remained since old times. There are a lot of them in Moscow and St. Petersburg. And Kazan has some beautiful cathedrals as well! Inside the churches there are icons and frescos painted by artists of last centuries and a lot of decorations.

There is a monastery near Kazan that builds the whole town of ice statues near its walls every year on Christmas. It is very beautiful.

Well, have you got an impression that you were in Russia? We are always happy to see you here!

We say in Russia: "S Novym Godom! S Novym schastiem!" which means: "New Year! New Happiness to you!”

Don’t forget to wish new happiness to your girlfriend. New Happiness to you!

Your comments:

#1 Dalvin (Australia) at 2007-11-26
We are having a competition at work in regards to how other countries celebrate christmas and my team got Russia as the country. This story has given me an inside of how Russia celebrate christmas and most importantly not on the normal traditional international date - 25th December but 7th January. That's excellent. now i need to figure out how to decorate my team and what icon can we use for our decoration, i guess the Yolka would be a good thing to start off with.
once again thanks.
#2 Rachel (England) at 2007-01-05
I am so pleased that I found this site. For music we have been studying Christmas carols and therefore have to study Christmas in another country and of course the music. It is marked and I think that I will get good marks for it now. Thanks to who ever wrote this!
#3 Cayla (United States) at 2006-10-10
Thank you so much to whoever wrote this I am currently doing a report on Russia for Geography class.We have to do an A-Z book and each letter has to have something that relates to Russia this site helped me alot.THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!!!
Author's answer: You are welcome, Cayla!
#4 Laura (Almeida) at 2006-03-29
Im doing a proget on Russia on "HOW DO RUSSIANS CELABRATE CHRITMAS" and
this info helped a lot i give thanz 2 who ever wrote this!
Author's answer: I'm glad to help you!

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