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Christmas in Russia: Traditions, Customs, and Celebrations

A Guide to the Festive and Timeless Traditions of Christmas in Russia

Christmas in Russia is a time of joy, celebration, and deep cultural significance. For many Russians, the holiday season begins with Advent and culminates with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 19th. In this article, we’ll explore the rich and fascinating traditions of Christmas in Russia, from its religious roots to modern-day festivities.


History and Religious Roots

Christmas in Russia has a long and complex history, shaped by the country’s unique religious and cultural traditions. The Orthodox Church, which has deep roots in Russian history, celebrates Christmas on January 7th. This is because the church uses the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the Western world.


Traditions and Customs

Russian Christmas is steeped in rich and fascinating traditions, many of which have been passed down through generations of families. One of the most beloved customs is the Christmas Eve meal, which takes place on January 6th. This meal typically includes 12 meatless dishes, symbolizing the 12 apostles. Other traditional foods include kutya, a sweet grain pudding, and borscht, a hearty beet soup.


Decorations and Symbols

Like many cultures around the world, Russians decorate their homes and public spaces with festive decorations during the Christmas season. Traditional decorations include ornaments made from straw, wood, and other natural materials, as well as garlands of spruce or pine branches. The most iconic symbol of Russian Christmas, however, is the Christmas star. This star is often placed atop a tall pole in public spaces, and is meant to represent the Star of Bethlehem.


Modern-Day Celebrations

Today, many Russians celebrate Christmas in a blend of traditional and modern ways. While some still attend church services and hold family gatherings, others might exchange gifts or take part in public celebrations, such as outdoor festivals and concerts.



Christmas in Russia is a time of rich traditions, cultural significance, and joyous celebration. Whether you’re interested in exploring the religious roots of the holiday or simply want to learn about the customs and practices that make Russian Christmas so unique, this festive season is sure to captivate your imagination and warm your heart.

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