Over 80,000 Russian Orthodox Churches around the world celebrated Christmas yesterday with some celebrations continuing into today. Many Russians attended midnight masses and gathered with family and friends.
Patriarch Kirill I, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, held mass at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. He called upon the younger generation to be educated "in the true spirit of patriotism".
The mass was broadcast on 10 television channels and was attended by 6,000 people, including President Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana. Medvedev and Kirill exchanged traditional Christmas gifts decorated with evergreen boughs.
Medvedev gave the patriarch a modern, hand-written testament, while Kirill gave the President a four-volume collection of the works of Russian writers and poets of the 14th to 20th centuries.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin celebrated Christmas in Kostroma, which is about 400km northeast of Moscow, on the banks of the Volga River.
Many businesses in Russia remain closed throughout next week, up until they celebrate another New Year on January 13th. Your favorite Russian brides may still be visiting family or taking vacation during this extended holiday season.