It may be too late to rock around the Christmas tree in the UK but in Russia the festive season is still in its prime.
Russian Christmas is different from the traditional Christmas celebrations in other Christian countries. Starting from the date and finishing with Christmas activities, Russian people may perceive Christmas in a slightly different light.
The first question that comes to mind is why Christmas is celebrated almost two weeks later than it would be expected in other Christian countries? The answer has its roots in history. The Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC was the predominant church calendar in European countries until it was gradually replaced by the Gregorian calendar propagated by Pope Gregory XIII. However, Russian church never adopted the Gregorian calendar, which resulted in a 13-day difference in Christmas celebrations. However, Russia is not the only one. Other countries on the list include Serbia, Belarus, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Israel, Georgia, Moldova, Egypt, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine.
So how is Russian Christmas different? You may know that many Russian people are more excited about New Year’s Eve and hardly see Christmas as more than another bank holiday and an opportunity to stay in bed for longer. The reason for this is Russia’s Soviet heritage. Before 1918 Christmas was one of the most favourite holidays in Russia widely celebrated with a Christmas tree, treats, games and songs. However, the Soviet government banned Christmas and people incorporated Christmas festivities into New Year. In 1935 it was allowed to decorate Christmas trees again but this time, they were called New Year trees and the star on top was a five-pointed star rather than the traditional seven-pointed star which according to the Bible led to the new born Christ. The return of Christmas on the 7 of January did not resume old Christmas traditions and left modern Christmas to be a very humble holiday.
Nonetheless, people still enjoy this day and make it special by going to church and spending time with their loved ones. It is a very warm family day unlike the loud and adventurous New Year’s Eve. Do not expect a generous boxing day after though! Most of the presents had already been received on January the 1st.