Christmas in Russia

How do I wish someone there a Happy Christmas?

  • Schastlivogo Rozhdestva!

When do they give presents?

  • New Year’s Day

Who brings the presents?

  • Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) and his granddaughter Snegurochka (The Snowmaiden). They travel on a vehicle pulled by three horses.

What’s on the menu?

  • The big meal on Orthodox Christmas Eve (January 6) has 12 courses to represent the 12 apostles. Dishes include roast fish, borscht or beetroot soup, vegetable pie, salads and a pudding made of wheat and fruit called kutia.

Any other traditions I should know about?

  • As an Orthodox Christian country, Russia celebrates Christmas Day on January 7. This is because the Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar. It’s 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used by most of the world.
  • During the Soviet era many Christmas traditions were moved to a non-religious New Year celebration that’s still marked today. This includes decorating trees and giving presents, making it more like a Western Christmas.
  • Tradition says the big meal on Christmas Eve (January 6) can’t start until the first star appears in the sky. On Orthodox Christmas Day (January 7) families go to church and then have a family dinner.
  • Russian Christmas holidays last from New Year’s Day through to January 7. That makes it one of the longest public holidays in the world.