Christmas, New Year in Russia


Every Russian knows the axiom: “As you celebrate the New Year, you will spend it!”

New Year is the main holiday of the year in Russia; it is the most desirable, beautiful, rich in history, fascinating traditions and funny ordinary holidays. Today, holiday preparations begin in mid-December. Streets, shops and businesses are decorated with garlands, toys, and posters; decorated Christmas trees appear on the streets of cities.

photo from

In every city, town or village on the central square there are large Christmas trees illuminated with electric garlands. Charming sparkling ice sculptures, snowmen and figures of Santa Claus and Snow Maiden are placed around the tree. At the same time, houses are also decorated with Christmas trees, which people buy at the spruce bazaars. New Year’s gifts are hidden under the tree. Christmas trees traditionally stand in homes until January 13-14, when Russians celebrate the Old New Year. The celebration begins at about 11 pm when the family will sit down for a festive dinner. Shortly before 12 noon, a toast is made to the “old, passing year”, in which a tribute is paid to the good things that he brought. In Russia, it is customary to listen to the speech of the head of state on television. The President traditionally sums up the results of the past year and congratulates Russian citizens on the New Year on all TV channels. After the speech, exactly at midnight, the country listens to the ringing of the Kremlin, which signals the beginning of the New Year, while the chimes strike, one needs to think and make the most cherished wish. After that, the national anthem is played. In these exciting moments, everyone is drinking champagne and wishing each other a happy New Year.

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After that, many people like to go outside to launch all kinds of fireworks and light sparklers. Festive performances with songs, dances and games are held in the central squares of cities and towns.

photo by Benkovskaia Lidiia

An important element of the celebration of New Year’s holidays in Russia is the presence on the table of tangerines, Olivier salad, crab salad, sandwiches with red caviar, herring under a fur coat, champagne. Also in Russia it is customary not to transfer unfinished business to the new year, and what is more, you need to “leave all debts for the old year,” that is, repay debts before the beginning of the coming year. On New Year’s Eve, you need to wear completely new clothes, which at best should be “happy colours” next year.

The Christmas is the second most important holiday in the country. It is celebrated on January 7, not only at the church, but also at the state level. Children go carols (announce the good news of the birth of the Savior).

A small nativity scene is set up in the houses. The birth of the Savior. At all times, at Christmas, it was customary to give gifts to both children and adults.

photo from tripvisor

From January 6 to January 7, in all churches of Russia, a night service is held dedicated to the birth of Jesus Christ. It is customary to sit down for a refectory dinner after the first star appears in the firmament. At present, we see this tradition only in the fact that many Russian families sit down at the table on the 7th, after a big service.

On the night before Christmas, you can make a wish, which must certainly come true. On Christmas Eve (on the night of January 6-7), the festive Liturgy (after the restoration of the temple – from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior) is broadcast on federal TV channels. Some Orthodox believers at this time stand services directly in the church.

photo from tripvisor

On this day, the Orthodox attend divine services in the Temples, then the hostesses clean up the apartments and cook. Divine services, communion and confession are indispensable “attributes”, shall we say, of a holiday for the Orthodox. When laying the table, strive to decorate it beautifully – in the centre there must certainly be a composition of fir branches and candles, distribute several straws under the tablecloth, they symbolize the manger where the Savior was after birth.

On the table, there should be 12 lenten dishes (according to the number of the apostles), one of them is soothing All 12 dishes must be tasted, you cannot leave at least one intact. Before Christmas, the table is not cleaned, as is all the food on it. On Christmas days, you cannot swear, quarrel with loved ones, be offended, be greedy, and be far from your loved ones, according to legend, if you meet Christmas alone, you will “wander” all year.

Lidiia Benkovskaia
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