It's that time of year again... Christmas is over, we're all back at work and completely broke after spending way too much over the festive season. Well, not for Russia because many religious holidays are still celebrated on the dates of the old Julian calender, therefore making Christmas day 7th January!
So hip hip hooray it's Christmas again today!!! Only, it's not really Christmas as we know it. Russian's don't tend to make a big deal out of Christmas... it is seen as a religious holiday and so down to the Soviet era's discouragement of religion, Russia never really caught the Westernised “present buying, over-eating, money spending” Christmas bug. Instead, New Years became the big holiday in Russia where trees are decorated, families gather, food is eaten and Дед Мороз (Dyed Moroz/Gradfather Frost - Father Christmas) and his granddaughter Снегурочка (Snyegurochka/The Snowmaiden) give gifts.
So what will be happening in Russia today for Christmas? For Russian Orthodox believers it is a day of long services that begin on Christmas Eve (January 6th). The traditional Christmas dinner is the 'Holy Supper' – 12 dishes to represent the 12 apostles including soup, fish, mushrooms and dumplings.
7thJanuary became a public holiday again after the collapse of communism so most people will do something to mark today. I asked my Russian friends what they will be doing to celebrate Christmas and most of them said that they had already celebrated at New Year so they wouldn't be doing too much today, but they will go and see their family for a meal.
Last year I didn't have a job and didn't really want Christmas to end so decided to hold my own very non-traditional Russian Christmas party! We ate mince pies, drank mulled wine and I even made some Russian doll cupcakes! So if like me, today is your first full week back at work and you are feeling the post-Christmas depression... grab a mince pie guilt free. Christmas ain't over until Russia says!