Instead of celebrating Christmas on the night of December 24 and all day of December 25 like other countries in the world, the people of the country of birch choose January 7.
Why do Russians celebrate Christmas in January?
Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas in Russia with millions of believers around the world on January 7 every year. Initially, Orthodox and Catholics both celebrated Christmas on the same day. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII announced a new type of calendar – the Gregorian calendar in Europe. Immediately, most European Catholic countries adopted a new calendar and that year October 5 became October 15. In Germany, the new calendar was adopted at the beginning of the 18th century. America and Britain used the old Julian calendar until 1752.
In Russia, the Gregorian calendar was adopted only in 1918 by a decree of the Soviet Government, which changed January 31 of that year to February 14. However, the Russian church did not accept the changes and continued to celebrate Christmas on December 25 according to the Julian calendar, which is January 7 of the following year according to the Gregorian calendar. Currently, these two calendars are 13 days apart. Other Orthodox churches following the Julian calendar to date include Orthodox churches in Jerusalem, the Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Serbia, Poland… This is the reason for Easter, Christmas and some religious holidays. Other teachers arrived in Russia more than 2 weeks late.
Christmas is one of the most important holidays for Orthodox Christians, marking the end of Lent. About 2.3 million Russian Orthodox Christians flock to churches, participate in processions, Christmas Eve ceremonies, sing hymns, etc. This solemn event is held in St. thousands of cities and towns of the Russian Federation.
Christmas is considered an expression of power and divinity, helping to strengthen unity among people. This traditional festival begins on Christmas Eve, called Sochyelnik . Christians in Russia, who make up about 75% of the population, will gather in prayer, holding a large, cozy feast with their families. The traditional dishes on the table include pickled cucumbers, salted mushrooms, sauerkraut, pickled apples, pies filled with meat, mushrooms, fish, vegetables… They also have a tradition of giving gifts to each other, decorating the house. with images of angels, stars and nativity scenes. Some Russians don’t fast, or go to church, but still celebrate Christmas, because they see this as a holiday of love, acceptance and tolerance.
A tradition that Russians often do on this occasion is to go to a fortune-teller. This divination is performed by young, unmarried women, gathered in a house or Banya – Russian sauna. They wear nightgowns and let their hair down. Elderly women perform a ritual to bring prosperity to the family. Married men and women are not allowed to participate. This is just a folk entertainment tradition.
The land of birch has its own version of Santa Claus, different from the funny, round-bellied gentleman in red that appears in Hollywood movies and on Christmas cards in the US. Santa Claus in Russia is called Ded Moroz, usually wearing a red, blue or yellow fur coat, wearing traditional Russian boots and riding in a carriage instead of reindeer. His assistant is his niece Snegurochka – the pink-cheeked, blonde and very smiley snow princess. Instead of Christmas Eve, Ded Moroz often gives gifts to children on New Year’s Eve.
Not the North Pole, where Russian children can go to see Ded Moroz is an estate in the town of Veliky Ustyug, Vologda Oblast region. Russian children also often send letters to Santa in the hope that their wishes will come true. Visitors often flock here at Christmas to take pictures with Santa Claus, ride a troika – a three-horse carriage that Ded Moroz drives to deliver presents and participate in winter entertainment activities.
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