Christmas in Russia is most widely celebrated on January 7, according to the Orthodox calendar. New Year’s Day, January 1st, precedes the Russian Christmas and is often celebrated as a more important holiday. However, some Russians observe two Christmases and even two New Year’s – the first Christmas observed on December 25th, and the second New Year’s observed on January 14th. Any public trees, like the Christmas Tree in Moscow’s Red Square, will also serve as a symbol of the New Year.
The Russian Santa Claus is named Ded Moroz, or Father Frost. Accompanied by Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden, he brings presents to children to place under the New Year’s tree. He carries a staff, wears valenki and is carried across Russia in a troika.
Svyatki, Russian Christmastide follows the celebration of Christmas and lasts until January 19, the day Epiphany is celebrated. This two-week period is closely associated with pagan traditions of fortune telling and caroling.
If you’re looking for Christmas gifts from Russia, consider gifts like nesting dolls and Russian lacquer boxes. These gifts can be found on your travels, but you can also purchase these, and other items, online.