Voices from Russia

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Sputnik Presents: Pray, Sing Carols and Tell Fortunes… How Russia Celebrates Christmas


The majority of those celebrating Orthodox Christmas on 7 January live in Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia. Minority populations in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria also observed the holiday according to the Julian calendar.



President Putin attended Nativity services at the Yuriev Monastery in Novgorod Oblast.



Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias served on Nativity at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.



In 337 AD, Roman Pope Julius I approved 25 December as the date of Christmas. Since then, Christendom celebrates Christmas on December 25 (except the Armenian Church, which celebrates Christmas and Epiphany as a single feast on the Epiphany). The Russian Orthodox Church also celebrates Christmas on 25 December, but as it didn’t accept the calendar reform by Roman Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni, the Church observes the feast on that date according to the old Julian calendar, which is 7 January on the “new” Gregorian calendar.



President Putin talked to fishermen after attending Nativity services at the Yuriev Monastery.



At Christmas, it is customary in many families to decorate a Christmas tree and give each other gifts. People adorn Christmas tree branches with various sweets and glowing lights.



After attending services on Christmas day, people would break the fast with all kinds of meat and fish dishes, as well as a jellied or roasted goose with apples. Roasted poultry adorned the Christmas table. Chicken was served cold, whilst goose or duck was served hot. People garnished cold chicken with pickles, tomatoes and herbs; they served hot poultry with roast potatoes. In every home, there were pies and cakes made of unleavened rye dough with various fillings. People also gave out Christmas cakes to “starrers” (kolyadki* singers).

  • Kolyadki: Russian equivalent of Christmas carols, sung during the entire Svyatki period, and sometimes, in some places, right up until the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple on 15 February



In Russia, tradition and religion intertwine. Christmas celebrations last from 6 to 18 January in most places. People still follow old customs such as “Starring” (Russian carolling), which is the Russian equivalent of “trick-or-treat” (but without the pranks).



On the evening of 6 January, Chairman of the Government D A Medvedev and his wife Svetlana prayed at Orthodox Christmas services at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow.



“Starrers” walk from house to house of friends or acquaintances singing Christmas carols in their honour and ask for treats. People show generosity and hospitality to their unexpected guests and give them traditional gifts.



The “starrers” sing songs wishing their benefactors a rich harvest, newborn livestock, and good order at home in thanks for their generous gifts. Then, they go on to the next house.



On 6 January (Nativity Eve), a woman prayed during services at Vigil mass at St Serge Russian Orthodox church in Paris.



The Svyatki period is also known for its fortune-telling tradition. Eastern Slavs consider Christmas and Epiphany Eves to be the best time for fortune-telling. If a girl wants to see her groom, she must sit in a dark room between two mirrors, light candles, and peer into the gallery of reflections, hoping to see her future husband. Questions about love, marriage, and family life have always been the most popular in fortune-telling.



Participants in the Winter Malanya Festival of ethnic groups and historical reenactment at Klyuchi Oblast Park in the village of Kostroma in Prokhorovka Raion (Belgorod Oblast).



Archpriest Pavel, the parish rector, oversaw Christmas services at the Church of the Icon of the Birthgiver “of Tikhvin” in Kazan.


Truth in Advertising Department:

Some of these images are from last year or the year before… but that doesn’t matter, as they illustrate Russian Nativity and Svyatki customs well. Just tellin’ you what is…


7 January 2017

Sputnik International



8 January 2017. Where Was Vladimir Vladimirovich on Christmas?



Where else, but at services? He attended Nativity services at the Yuriev Monastery in Veliki Novogorod…


8 January 2017. Two “Flavours” of Christmas


It was -30 (-22 Fahrenheit) in Piter



It was +30 (86 Fahrenheit) in Oz


Take your pick… as always, choose wisely… and pack your sunscreen, if you will…


Nativity Greetings from Comrade Zyuganov: Christmas… A Holiday of Hope and Expectation


On the bright evening of the Nativity of Christ,

From the depths of my soul,

I want to wish you happiness and health,

And to greet each day with a smile.

Happiness, Love, and Health to you…





These illustrations were part of the original post. You may believe this or you can take credence in the lies that issue forth from the usual cast of rightwing suspects… it’s your call… choose wisely


People hunger for social justice, the nations crave equality, and our Earth wants our solidarity and unity in the causes of conserving nature and of  achieving peace in the world

Dear comrades and friends, dear compatriots!

For the past week, we’ve lived in the New Year; now, it’s time for the first state and folk holiday in our new year… the Nativity of Christ. The light and sincere joy of Christmas illuminates the whole coming year. This is an encouraging and life-affirming holiday. Christmas is a time of hope and expectation. After all, the events that occurred more than 2,000 years ago in the Bethlehem manger brought in a new era of civilisation. Christmas is a holiday of unity for mankind, families, generations, and peoples, indeed, unity with all living things, a unity that we have to cherish and keep for the future.

Such is the nature of the Russian people that they think not only about peace and prosperity for their families, but also for the other people in the world. We rejoice in the fact that Christmas flashed a light of hope in the world to an ancient land, for Syria is truly the cradle of Christian civilisation. The light of the guiding star led the sages and magi; it foreshadowed the birth of a new world. The apostles and saints preached there; Apostle St Paul showed by his preaching and deeds that labour and the merciful Word are the foundations of right living. We are proud of the fact that Russian strength and diplomacy freed this ancient land from diabolical encroachment. However, that’s Russia’s historical destiny… to come unto our suffering brethren, those who need help and support. The main features of our soul are compassion and sacrifice, even though many of those that we saved and bestowed benefits upon didn’t always faithfully preserve the memory of it.

In 2017 we’ll celebrate the centenary of an event that marked a new era in the struggle for social justice and labour, the world-renowned Great October Socialist Revolution. Since ancient times, people craved justice and the peoples craved friendship and equality. After all, the fields, rivers, mountains, and natural resources, the vast expanses of land and sea, belonged to a narrow circle of people, those who through cunning and treachery appropriated the common domain. It shouldn’t be so that some nations put themselves above the others and deal unjustly with those who are weaker. As F M Dostoevsky put it:

The highest and the most characteristic feature of our nation is a sense of justice and a desire for it.

A century ago, people gathered under the banner of hope, wanting happiness, well-being, and equality of all peoples of the earth as their highest values. A new era in the history of mankind changed the face of the world. The struggle of the working people of the world for their rights, inspired by the victory of October, bore fruit in many countries.  The colonial world collapsed and people won their freedom and independence; working people in the West and the East, receiving support from the USSR, won many social gains. Under the banner of the Great October, our country won over the world forces of evil… fascism. It achieved unprecedented breakthroughs in science, technology, and space exploration; it built a society based on humanity, where the people were friends, comrades, and brothers. However, victory is never final. We must seek it again and again. Betrayal, treachery, cowardice, greed, blind credulity, hypocrisy, and cowardice are ever-present. As Apostle St Paul said, “By both word and deed”, we must struggle for lofty ideals constantly, every day and every hour.

People of goodwill and pure thought yearn for peace throughout the world. The socialist state, for which we struggle, has the duty to ensure the fundamental rights enshrined for the first time in October 1917 for all peoples. Working people have a right to creative work that brings joy and inspiration. Parents have a right to universal and free education for their children. Everyone everywhere has a right to affordable health care… no one should have to rely on “philanthropists” to provide life and health for both the young and those beat down by the hard path of life.

Yes, a quarter of a century ago, our country guaranteed these rights, and the older generation remembers it. They could tell younger people about Soviet childhood, youth, and formation, about the achievements that brought forth the revolution that took place a century ago, when our people embarked on building a great future. We firmly believe in the ideals of peace and labour, liberty and justice, and equality and fraternity. These ideals are eternal, and therefore indestructible. We believe that mankind will rise, and the polyphony of a genuine ode to joy will sound over the entire planet.

On this festive day, I wish good health and optimism to everyone, fulfilment of your good wishes and aspirations, harmony and well-being to every family, and a happy childhood and joyful youth to our young people. I work for and have confidence in the future of all people, peace and prosperity for all peoples in the world, dedicated to the eternal ideals of goodness and justice.

To the holiday! To the Nativity of Christ!

00 G A Zyuganov 20116 January 2017

G A Zyuganov

Head of the KPRF faction in the RF Gosduma

Chairman of the TsK KPRF


KPRF official website


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