In Russia, Christmas is annually celebrated on January 7th, thanks to the Russian Orthodox Church that has made it an official holiday in the country. Previously the occassion was observed on December 25th in much the same way as it was in the rest of the world, complete with Christmas trees and Christmas gifts, Saint Nicholas and the like. But after the 1917 Revolution, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations. It was much much later, in 1992, that the holiday began to be openly observed again. However, the church in Russia still uses the old Julian calendar which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the Western nations. This is why, Christmas is celebrated in Russia on January 7th. But these days, a few Russians have begun to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December.
Today, Christmas is celebrated in the country in a grand fashion, with the faithful participating in an all-night Mass in Cathedrals. The main religion in Russia is called Russian Orthodox. The Russian Orthodox Church is more than one thousand years old and most of the Christian population in the country belong to it. 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 wheatberries (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.
A Christmas ceremony of great significance here is the blessing of individual homes. During Christmastime, a priest visits every home accompanied by boys carrying vessels of holy water. A little water is sprinkled in each room, which is believed to usher in happiness and fortune to them. Another popular custom here 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.
Russia celebrates a white Christmas what with the weather being very cold and snowy during this time and the temperature always dropping to minus degrees.