Winter Customs and Holidays in Russia
By Katerina Pamsheva, on September 26, 2021
The New Year, which falls on December 31st, is Russia's most frequently observed holiday. Russians prepare traditional winter foods and decorate Christmas trees with ornaments. No celebration is complete without the television entertainment, which is followed by the Russian President's festive speech and the ringing of the Kremlin's bell. The actual Russian New Year party begins after the bells ring twelve times and people make their wishes, and the entire country descends into a food and booze induced slumber until January 11th.
According to the Gregorian calendar, the Russian Orthodox Christmas is two weeks after the Catholic Christmas, and falls on January 7th. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the practice of celebrating Christmas was revived, and in modern Russia, people celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday more often now. Russian Christmastide is a two-week period that follows Christmas and is intimately tied with pagan practices such as fortune telling.
It's not surprising that the Russians celebrate the New Year twice, given their love of long winter holidays. The Gregorian calendar celebrates the so-called Old New Year on January 14. The Old New Year brings an end to Russia's winter holiday season, forcing everyone to return to work and school. The majority of Russians keep their New Year trees till the Old New Year has passed. The Old New Year, also known as the Orthodox New Year, is an informal traditional celebration that marks the start of the Julian calendar's New Year. Even though Old New Year sounds ridiculous it is puts New Year long celebration to its logical end.