Russian Christmas Traditions

Russian Christmas Traditions

Russia, a country known for its rich culture and traditions, celebrates Christmas with unique customs that have been passed down through generations. Let's explore some of the fascinating Russian Christmas traditions.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Russian Christmas celebrations begin on January 7th, according to the Orthodox calendar. This is because the Russian Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in Western countries.

The period from January 7th to January 19th is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. During this time, families come together to celebrate with religious services, feasts, and various festive activities.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve, known as 'Sochelnik' in Russian, is an important part of the Christmas celebrations. It is traditional to have a meatless meal on this day, consisting of 12 different dishes, representing the 12 apostles. The feast often includes dishes like borscht, dumplings, pickled herring, and kutya, a sweet grain pudding.

After the meal, families attend a midnight church service called the 'Vigil,' where they sing carols and participate in religious rituals.

Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden

Russian Christmas is not complete without the presence of Grandfather Frost, known as 'Ded Moroz,' and his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden or 'Snegurochka.' These characters bring gifts for children and are often seen at public events and in shopping centers during the holiday season.

New Year's Celebrations

In Russia, New Year's Eve is an even bigger celebration than Christmas. The arrival of the New Year is marked with fireworks, parties, and the famous New Year's address by the President of Russia.

It is also traditional to decorate a New Year's tree, similar to a Christmas tree, and exchange gifts on New Year's Eve. Families gather to enjoy festive meals, watch special TV programs, and participate in various activities to welcome the upcoming year.


Russian Christmas traditions are deeply rooted in the country's history and religious beliefs. The Twelve Days of Christmas, Christmas Eve feasts, Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden, and the grand New Year's celebrations all contribute to the unique and enchanting atmosphere during the holiday season in Russia. Embracing these traditions allows one to experience the magic and warmth of Russian Christmas.

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