Christmas trees on the Lubyanka square in the center of Moscow.Konstantin Kokoshkin/Global Look Press
Statistically, that’s not likely but it depends on their confession. Most Russian Catholics and Protestants celebrate, but Orthodox Christians, who make around 80 percent of the population, have to wait for their Christmas dinners until Jan. 7. Of course, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists and all others don’t recognize the holiday.
Until 1918, Russia and the Western world lived according to different calendars: Russia stuck to the older Julian calendar that lagged behind the modern, Gregorian one by two weeks. In 1918, the Bolsheviks adopted the Gregorian calendar in Russia, but the clergy decided to keep to the Julian. Basically, the Orthodox also celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25 according to their church calendar, but by this time it’s already Jan. 7 for the rest of the world.
No, they don’t. Russians don’t exchange presents on Christmas, and there is no Santa Claus.
Santa looks for Russian kids in his list but fails to find any...Getty Images
Also, in the Orthodox tradition Christmas is preceded by 40 days of strict fasting. In the Catholic world, the closest analog is Advent, a time for preparation and prayers, which, doesn’t come with severe restrictions.
This time of year the atmosphere is Christmas-like all over the
To find a local church of your confession, check any guidebook: In the case of Catholics, there’s the online Catholic Travel Guide. For Protestants, it’s a bit harder due to the multiplicity of confessions, but the Lutheran churches of St. Peter and St. Paul are easy to find in both Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Good luck with your search, and Merry Christmas!
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