Christmas in Russia by Iuliia Avramova exchange student
The first thing people usually hear about the Russian Christmas is that it is celebrated not on 25th December, but on 7th January. How so?
Russians started to celebrate the Christmas holiday officially in the late 10th century. However, some pagan rituals (e.g. fortune-telling) which were widespread before the arrival of Christianity stayed, creating a unique mixture of Christmas traditions that are still observed in Russia. Christmas was developing as a holiday until the events of the twentieth century.
After the Bolsheviks had come to power, they adopted the Gregorian calendar. The clergy decided to keep to the Julian one as before. A little bit later Christmas and all other church holidays were banned as a continuation of the state policy of atheism. If people wanted to celebrate Christmas, they had to do it in secret within a circle of their families.
In 1935 many Christmas traditions were re-adopted as a part of a new secular New Year celebration.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, people were free to practice religions and to celebrate Christmas again.
Today, Christmas is more religious and private: families attend Church, where one of the most beautiful and important services in the year takes place, and settle down for a Christmas dinner.