Christmas in Russia

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A festive celebration of Christmas nearby the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, 2002

Christmas in Russia (Russian: Рождество Христово Rozhdestvo Khristovo, in the Russian Orthodox Church called Е́же по пло́ти Рождество Господа Бога и Спа́са нашего Иисуса Христа) is celebrated on 7 January and marks the birthday of Jesus. Christmas is mainly a religious event in Russia. On Christmas Eve (6 January), there are several long services, including the Royal Hours and Vespers combined with the Divine Liturgy. The family will then return home for the traditional Christmas Eve "Holy Supper", which consists of 12 dishes, one to honor each of the Twelve Apostles. Devout families will then return to church for the "всеночная" All Night Vigil. Then again, on Christmas Morning, for the "заутренняя" Divine Liturgy of the Nativity. Since 1992 Christmas has become a national holiday in Russia, as part of the ten-day holiday at the start of every new year.


In Russia, the Christmas holiday become the official celebration with the baptism of Rus' ordered by Prince Vladimir in the late 10th century, however, given the early Christian community Kievan Rus', celebration may have a longer history.

During the Soviet period, religious celebrations were discouraged by the officially atheist state. Christmas tree and related celebrations were gradually eradicated after the October Revolution. In 1935, in a surprising turn of state politics, the Christmas tradition was adopted as part of the secular New Year celebration. These include the decoration of a tree, or "ёлка" (spruce), festive decorations and family gatherings, the visit by gift-giving "Ded Moroz" (Дед Мороз "Grandfather Frost") and his granddaughter, "Snegurochka" (Снегурочка "The Snowmaiden").

Traditional Russian cuisine[edit]

Principal and binding on the Christmas table in old Russia were a variety of pork roasted pig, stuffed pig's head, roasted meat chunks, jelly, aspic. Christmas dinner served on many other meats: goose with apples, sour cream hare, venison, lamb, whole fish, etc. The abundance of lumpy fried and baked meats, whole baked chicken and fish on the festive table was associated with features of the device Russian furnace, which allowed successfully prepare large-sized products.[1]

Finely sliced meat and pork cooked in pots with semi-traditional porridge. Indispensable dish for Christmas, as well as on other holidays were pies: closed and open, cheesecake, rolls, cakes, balls, pie, Kurnik, boats, saechki, pies, shangi. Cooked casseroles, pancakes. Fillings was set on every flavor (herbal, vegetable, fruit, mushrooms, meat, fish, cheese, mixed).[2]

Sweet dishes served on Christmas Russian table, were not varied. This berries, fruit, candy, cakes, firewood, biscuits, honey. Drinking broths (compote and sweet soups, sbiten), jelly, from the beginning of the 18th century - Chinese tea.[3]

Complaints to the Russian Constitutional Court[edit]

In 1999, atheist MV Agbunov requested that the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation tested the constitutionality of decrees on the recognition of 7 January as a federal holiday. This request was denied by the court by the argumant that, "the specified statutory provisions apply to the law on public holidays days ..., and do not contain provisions indicating the violation of constitutional rights and freedoms referred to by the applicant. (Articles 14, 19, 28 and 29 (part 2) of the Constitution of Russia)".

In 2008, a neo-pagan group filed a similar complaint. The group argued that the fact that Orthodox Christmas is an official holiday is contrary to the Constitution of Russia, according to which "no religion can be established as state and obligatory". After having considered the complaint, the court rejected it on the grounds that decisions about public holidays are within the competence of the Russian Parliament and are not a constitutional matter.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Энциклопедия обрядов и обычаев, — СПб.: Респекс, 1996, С. 11-55, 80-88 ISBN 5-7345-0063-1
  2. ^ Энциклопедия обрядов и обычаев, — СПб.: Респекс, 1996, С. 11-55, 80-88 ISBN 5-7345-0063-1
  3. ^ Энциклопедия обрядов и обычаев, — СПб.: Респекс, 1996, С. 11-55, 80-88 ISBN 5-7345-0063-1
  4. ^ В суд на Рождество