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Russian Christmas Holiday Traditions

23. November 2009 by James 0 Comments

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas all across the globe. But for Russian ladies the Christmas season is bit different. 


Why are Russian holidays different?

It all goes back to the Great Schism. In 1054, the Western Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church had some disagreements and split from each other. One of the outcomes was when the Western Church switched to the Gregorian calendar for a more accurate date for celebration of Easter; the Orthodox Churches kept the traditional Julian calendar.


Today, every country accepts the Gregorian calendar. However, the Orthodox Churches still use the Julian calendar for religious celebrations such as Christmas and Easter.  That means the Russian Orthodox Church feast day of Christmas is January 7, not December 25. So December 25 is a regular work day for the vast majority of Russians. However, in Russia winter vacation begins on December 31 and ends on January 10.


Old Year is another winter holiday in Russia. It marks the old traditional Russian New Year under the old Imperial Julian calendar. In January, 1918 it was tossed aside and the modern Gregorian calendar was adopted.   It is an unofficial holiday but many businesses close early and host parties.


Some Russian women might be away on holiday during this time. It is a good idea to make sure that you and your lady know when each of you will be celebrating the Christmas holidays, so neither one of you misses a communication. 


Father Frost and Snow Maiden

St. Nicholas does visit Russia. He just goes by a different name, Father Frost or "Ded Moroz". Dressed in a long, red lap fur coat he is assisted by the beautiful Snow Maiden or “Snegoyrachka", who is dressed in a long-lap fur coat and boots.


Under the communists all religious celebrations were banned. So New Year’s Day became the big holiday.  It was also the day when Father Frost and Snow Maiden came to visit. Now they appear at both the New Year and at Christmas and good Russian children get double dose of presents.


Swiatki (Christmastide)

Swiatki or Christmastide is a two-week feast between Orthodox Christmas (January 7) and Epiphany (January 19) that is celebrated in some parts of Russia. The festival, though not approved by the Church, is very popular. Fortune-telling, ethnic songs and dancing, carnivals and games occur during this time.


Dating someone from a different culture can be challenging. Sending her Christmas greetings or a present during Russian Christmas will mean so much to her. It will show her that you took time to learn about her culture and that you appreciate her customs. In addition, learning her traditions proves to her that you are attentive to her needs. That goes a long way in wooing her.


Who knows she might turn out to be your snow maiden and keep you warm during those cold winter nights?