Christmas in Russia is celebrated on January 7th, since most Christians in Russia belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is customary in Russia to fast for the duration of Advent, until the first evening star appears in the sky on Christmas Eve. After this happens, a twelve-course supper, one course in honor of each of the twelve apostles, begins. This dinner is meatless, with the most important ingredient is a special porridge called ‘kutya.’ ‘Kutya’ is made out of wheat berries and other grains, which symbolize hope and immortality as well as honey and poppy seeds, which represent happiness, success, and untroubled rest and is eaten out of one common dish to symbolize unity within the family. Often after dinner, a priest visits the home and performs a blessing of the home, by sprinkling a little holy water in each of the rooms.
On Christmas Day, people gather in churches, which have been decorated with the usual Christmas trees, flowers and colored lights and celebrate mass. After mass, Christmas dinner is eaten, which unlike the night before, meat dish can be found at the center of the table. The main dish is usually goose or suckling pig, but regardless it is always a meat dish.
Babushka is a traditional Christmas figure in Russia who distributes presents to children. Her name means grandmother and the legend says that she declined to go with the wise men to see Jesus because of the cold whether, but later regretted it and set off to try and catch up, filling her basket with presents along the way. She never found Jesus and as a result is said to have visited house leaving the presents for the good children. Dedushka Moroz or Grandfather Christmas plays the role of Father Christmas.
This traditional Christmas celebration is fading away in Russia and being replaced by the Festival of Winter, however many of these traditions are still being kept up in some parts of the country.