Рождество (Christmas or Christmas Day) is an annual Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.

It is celebrated on December 25, but some Eastern Orthodox national churches, including those of Russia, Georgia, Egypt, Ukraine, the Macedonia, Serbia and the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem celebrate the Great Feast of the Nativity on January 7. This is because of their use of the traditional Julian Calendar, under which December 25 falls on January 7 as measured by the standard Gregorian Calendar.

The Russian Orthodox Church is more than one thousand years old and most of the Christian population in the country belong to it. After the 1917 Revolution and during the reign of communism, Russian people were forced to stop celebrating Christmas. Only in 1992 the holiday was openly observed. Therefore a lot of traditions, which existed many years ago, were lost.

For many Russians, a return to religion represents a return to their old roots and their old culture. Throughout Russia, after Christmas Eve services, people carrying candles, torches, and homemade lanterns parade around the church, just as their grandparents and great-grandparents did long ago. After the procession completes its circle around the church, the congregation reenters and they sing several carols and hymns before going home for a late Christmas Eve dinner.

In Russia, many people don’t eat meat, eggs or milk from a few weeks before Christmas and it is customary to fast until after the first church service on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve dinner is meatless but festive. The menu usually depends on the wealth of the families. A typical Christmas dinner however, includes delicacies such as hot roast pirog (Russian pies made out of meat or cabbage), and pelmeni (meat dumplings). The most important ingredient is a special porridge called kutya. The traditional ingredients that go in its preparation are wheat berries (or other grains which symbolize hope and immortality), and honey and poppy seeds which ensure happiness, success and peace. The kutya is eaten from a common dish to symbolize unity.

Christmas has for many centuries been a time for the giving and exchanging of gifts, particularly between friends and family members. Over the Christmas period, people decorate their homes and exchange gifts.

Another popular custom in Russia is that of young children going from house to house on the first day of Christmas carrying a star and singing carols and getting sweets from adults.


 The Russian Christmas greeting is

С Рождеством ! (S Razhdistvom!) or

Счастливого Рождества! (Shtshislivava Razhdistva!)