christmas image

christmas image




This Information on Christmas in Russia is prepared by Viking Club, Moscow, led by Sergey Shpilkin.

Christmas is celebrated in Russia as well as in all Christian countries around the world, but it is celebrated in another way because of the orthodox church. In old days (before the revolution in 1917) Christmas came to Russia as in Europe on 25 of December, but now due to a new church calendar it is held two weeks later, in January.

Before celebrating the Christmas every orthodox believer must keep the so called Small Fast, that lasts 40 days. It is forbidden to eat meat and drink beverages, there are a lot of other limitations in eating, drinking and behavior, but the these restrictions become stronger and stronger, specially during the last days (20-24 December according to the old church calendar). At the Christmas Eve The Russian Orthodox Church bans the believers to eat during the whole day up to the vespers or the evening liturgy.

These rules are still in force in Russia and are kept more or less in big towns but rather strictly at the countryside in the last ten years.

Christmas was very popular in Russia and was and is celebrated with Christmas tree and home party. Normally it is a holiday for a whole family, but first and all for children.

The Russian Santa Claus, which is called as Grandfather Frost, use Christmas to give presents to children. He is traveling the whole day and night with the Russian troika (it is a carriage with three horses) and is accompanied by his grand-daughter, named Snow-Maiden. He looks like Santa Claus, but has a longer gray beard and is dressed in a very long red-white caftan (long and warm winter-tunic with waist-girdle and it is fur-lined). He holds a stock and a sack filled with gifts and likes to talk with children and ask them to sing or dance. When they are good children, they get presents.

In some cases Grandfather Frost prefers to leave gifts at the Christmas night and the next morning children can find them near the Christmas tree. The Russian Santa is living now in the forest near the old town of Ustyug in the Northern Russia (his office is located in this small and old town and all children in Russia can send post to him to Ustyug), and is a good friend to Santa Claus, who lives in Lapland.

Updated December 2000 by The Viking Network.
Irish Co-ordinator
Michael Farry, Navan Education Centre

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