Many Russians celebrate Christmas on New Year’s Eve when Grandfather Frost arrives with his daughter, the Snow Maiden, to listen to children sing songs and recite poems before giving them presents and bags of candy.
Russian families decorate their homes with Christmas trees and pine leaves.
Orthodox Russians celebrate Christmas in early January. On Christmas Eve, they do not eat or drink until the first stars appear in the sky. Once the star is sighted – a reminder of the star that led the Magi to the Baby Jesus – the family eats a meatless dinner together, called the “Holy Supper”. The meal typically includes 12 dishes, which represent the 12 Apostles.
After dinner, the family does not wash the dishes right away (good idea!). Instead, they open presents and prepare to go to mass, which lasts several hours. Families usually do not return home until 2 or 3 in the morning.
It’s interesting to note that Russians had to adapt their religious traditions to New Year’s Eve after the Russian revolution in 1917 when religion was outlawed. So they moved their Christmas traditions to New Year’s Eve and re-characterized many of their customs in order to maintain their faith.
But since 1992, Russians have been free to celebrate as they wish. So, like them, you can enjoy some Russian tea cakes whenever you would like. Try this fantastic recipe from Cooking Clarified.