Christmas Celebrations in Russia

Christmas Celebrations in Russia

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Russia celebrates Christmas with great festivities despite the fact that the entire country is covered with snow. Similar to other Eastern Orthodox countries, Russia also celebrates Christmas on the 7th of January. Russia was ruled by the communists for a very long period of time due to which Christmas, just like other religious festivals, could not gain much popularity among people. Christmas was even replaced by the "Festival of Winter". Majority of people in Russia were atheists and that’s why they did not celebrated Christmas for a long period of time.
Since 1992, the celebration of Christmas has been revived in Russia and now its gaining popularity year by year. Russian Christmas traditions are quite different from rest of the world, although the spirit and theme of the celebration, remains the same.
On Christmas Eve, members of the Orthodox Church attend the church services. And nowadays Even the President of Russia has started attending these distinctive church services in Moscow.
In Russia, many people observe fasts during Christmas season. Number of days of fasting varies from person to person. Generally people fast for 30 days. Some people fasts for 40 days also. With the appearance of the first evening star, the fasting ends. In Russia, 6th of January is celebrated as the feast day. So many long prayer sessions, church services take place in many churches during this time.
People decorate their houses and backyards with lights, flowers and Christmas ornaments. In Russia, Christmas trees are called "Yelka". They decorate these Christmas trees with glitters, ornaments, beautiful flowers and lights and presents.
With so many delicacies, Russian Christmas feast is very special and unique. The feast is a 12 course dinner which includes beet soup, stuffed cabbage fish, dry fruits and lots of other delicacies. All the family members gather around the table and worship with great devotion. Every item used in these feast symbolizes something, they use a traditional white tablecloth which symbolizes the poverty of the place where baby Jesus was born. One big candle is positioned in the centre of the table to symbolize that Christ is the single light of the entire universe. Special lantern bread called "pagach" represent that Jesus is the bread of life.
The most significant dish of the Christmas feast is "Kutya", a special porridge made of wheat berries. Christmas feast of the Eastern Orthodox Christians (Lenten meal) is quite dissimilar as it avoids all meat and dairy stuff.

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