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Russian Holidays

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Russian Holidays

Our holiday traditions play an integral part in defining who we are as people, in that, we all enjoy celebrating holidays, whether itЎЇs Christmas, the New Year, or Easter. Russians feel the same way, although their holidays and traditions differ a little from American ones.

In chronological order, the first holiday is celebrated on January 1st and 2nd and just happens to be the most popular and most notable holiday- The New Year. As in the United States, Russians celebrate the New Year starting at midnight on December 31st. They drink champagne and listen to the Kremlin Chimes. The Spasskaya tower of Kremlin is MoscowЎЇs main clock, and signals the beginning of the New Year, at 12 oЎЇclock.

Most people decorate a New YearЎЇs tree, called a §Ð§§Ð­§Ð¬§Ð¡, which is a fir tree. Grandfather Frost, §Ò§Ð¦§Ð¥ Mopo§Ð©, is like Saint Nicolas or Santa, and Russian children wait for him because he brings their presents. Like our Santa, he has a long white beard, a red fur coat, felt boots, and special mittens. His sled isnЎЇt pulled by deer though, but by three special horses. Grandfather Frost lives in Velikii Ustug, and his granddaughter, the snow maiden, comes with him to give out the gifts (kind of like an elf). She is dressed in a light-blue fur coat and has white boots. There is also Baba Yaga and the Forest man, who try to steal the bag that has the presents. This is acted out in a play that most families present to the children when they are younger. The New Year is a family holiday, where most get together with friends and family.

Unfortunately, after the revolution in 1917, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations. Therefore, celebrating New Year became a "replacement", thus why it is so important.

In 1992, Christmas was finally allowed to be observed again. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th, because of the old Julian calendar. Since most Christian Russians belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, and they fast until after the first church service on January 6, Christmas Eve. Before the revolution, Babouschka would bring gifts to the Russian children, but he was too banned when Communism arose. Although Christmas is less popular in Russian that in the United States, it is still a largely recognized holiday. Throughout Russia, after Christmas Eve services, people carrying candles or torches, parade around the church. The procession is led by the highest-ranking member of the Russian Orthodox Church. Then, everyone sings Christmas carols and hymns before going home for Christmas Eve dinner. Christmas Eve dinner is meatless, but they do eat a special porridge called kutya. It is made of wheat berries or other grains, which is supposed to symbolize hope and immortality, and honey and poppy seeds which mean happiness and success.

The next two big holidays are MenЎЇs day, celebrated on February 23, and WomenЎЇs day, on March 8th. On MenЎЇs day, formerly Day of Soviet Army and Navy, all the men in Russia were liable for call-up (including reservists). Women often give men small gifts, but itЎЇs not as renowned as WomenЎЇs Day. March 8th has been made an official holiday, in which women are supposed to be given a break from their everyday jobs. The men usually give them flowers, and then are supposed to do all the housework. It started when a Bolshevik feminist,

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