Christmas in Russia

Christmas in Russia – Genuine Experience Knitted in Customs & History

Ever dreamed of spending the winter in a nation that embodies a special fusion of Eastern and Western components? If so, Russia might be the culture you were looking for. 

Celebrating Christmas in Russia is an adventure that crosses national boundaries and surrounds you in a weave of customs, history, and stunningly beautiful scenery. 

The architecture is an absolute delight for the eyes since it combines the delicate workmanship of Eastern aesthetics with the grace of Western design. Each building, from opulent palaces to cathedrals, illustrates how various cultures have impacted the country.

The country’s extensive and rich traditions enhance the pleasure of celebrating Christmas in Russia even more. Archaeological ruins, historical landmarks, and museums provide visitors with insights into the nation’s past and an impression of connection to earlier generations. The holiday experience is profoundly enriched by discovering these historical gems and learning about the customs and practices of Russia that have changed throughout the years.

If you’d love to experience the friendliness of the people during your winter vacation, Russians are likely to be willing to share it with their guests. But most importantly, here you have a chance to participate in cultural pursuits, go to historic celebrations, and enjoy food that evokes Soviet-era cuisine

So let’s explore centuries of tradition and see how the peaceful coexistence of civilizations might inspire you over the holiday season!

History of Celebrating Christmas in Russia

Christmas was not observed in Russia during the early Soviet Era, and even other religious holidays were greatly frowned upon. Christmas was declared illegal as a religious celebration in 1929 after the 1917 revolution in Russia. Christmas trees were prohibited until 1935 when they received the new name — New Year trees.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, individuals resumed celebrating Christmas with friends and family and enjoying a wonderful holiday feast. In line with the current time in Russia, Christmas is often observed on January 7. The Russian Orthodox Church employs the ancient Julian calendar for holy days, which explains why the date is different.

Russians celebrate Christmas lavishly and extravagantly. Russian Orthodox Christianity is the predominant religion in that country. Russia had a sizable Christian population. As a result, Christmas has emerged as one of the country’s most important holidays. 

The great Christmas festival includes many activities such as adorning trees, singing carols, and extending greetings. Russians celebrate Christmas Eve on a snowy day with a constant drop in temperature toward minus degrees Celsius.

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Customary Winter Festival & Traditional Fortune-Telling 

Even though the Russian Orthodox Church forbids fortune-telling, this custom dates back to Russian paganism. Tarot reading, coffee-ground prediction, and tea-leaf prophecy are a few of the more well-liked techniques for fortune-telling before enjoying Christmas in Russia. 

Koliada, a winter event that resembles Christmas carol singing, is another pre-Christian ritual. Its most notable feature is Mummers’ Plays, where players dress up as various folklore beings, making use of fur, horns, and masks. The participants set up a loud carnival in the streets. 

The offering of gifts in response to the carnival participants’ requests is the central element of koliada. Most frequently, pastries, lard, sausages, nuts, and fruits are given as gifts; less frequently, modest amounts of money. 

Traditional Christmas Meals in Russia

On Christmas Eve, some individuals wait until the first star appears in the sky before eating anything. Afterward, they enjoy Sochivo or Kutia, a porridge composed of wheat or rice that is served with honey, poppy seeds, fruit, notably berries, and dried fruit like grapes, chopped walnuts, or occasionally even fruit jellies. Christmas dinner is frequently more of a feast, with delicacies including roast pork and goose, pirog, and meat dumplings called pelmeni

It’s customary practice to eat Kutia out of one bowl to represent a sense of unity. A spoonful of Sochivo has traditionally been thrown up toward the ceiling by some families. Some individuals considered it a sign of excellent fortune and an abundance of crops if it remained at the ceiling.

Along with particular vegetable pies made with cabbage, potatoes, or mushrooms, vegan solyanka, the grain dishes alongside fried onions and mushrooms, salads frequently made with vegetables like mushrooms or tomatoes, and potato or additional root vegetable salads represent additional common Russian Christmas Eve dishes. The supper frequently consists of 12 dishes to symbolize Jesus’ 12 apostles.

Vzvar is frequently offered as a Christmas snack after a meal. It is a sweet beverage produced by boiling dried fruit and honey in water. Vzvar is commonly associated with a child’s birth, hence at Christmas, it represents the birth of the infant Jesus. After lunch, people are encouraged to pray before attending the church services at midnight. 

Fruit pies, gingerbread cookies, honey bread biscuits called Pryaniki, fresh and dried fruit, and additional nuts are common Christmas snacks. Additionally, there are Russian Christmas cookies known as Kozulya that are shaped like sheep, goats, or deer.

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Top 5 Destinations to Feel the Christmas Spirit in Russia

Russia gets into a cheerful mood around Christmas. Brightly decorated cities, snow-capped villages, peaceful lakes, and lush woods provide a gorgeous atmosphere to enjoy Christmas in Russia, with its equally beautiful winter surroundings, which extend over a large geographic area. 

Celebrating Christmas in Russia can be a genuinely evolving experience if you explore the nation’s ancient monuments and get involved in the culture. You will feel amazement and decency as a direct consequence of the magnitude of history and the size of the geographical region, which serve as a constant reminder of the astonishing size of the planet we live on.

You will admire the country’s natural splendor whether you are snowboarding down immaculate hillsides or taking a serene horseback ride throughout a winter wonderland.

Vacationing at such a time is much more enjoyable since you get a chance to participate in the festivities that are taking place everywhere. As a result, we have carefully chosen the top 5 locations you shouldn’t miss if you choose to experience Russian Christmas culture.

1. Moscow


In Russia, Moscow is regarded as one of the most populated cities. In Russia, the entire city is lit up for Christmas with festive illuminations and decorations, including real Christmas trees. In Moscow, prominent tourist destinations include Red Square, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and the Bolshoi Theatre

The best place to enjoy Christmas in Russia is in Moscow, where you can visit the following attractions:

  • Gorky Park
  • Kremlin Armory
  • Tretyakov Gallery
  • Dormition Cathedral
  • Grand Kremlin Palace
  • Sparrow Hills
  • Pushkin Museum
  • Alexander Garden
  • Poklonnaya Hill
  • Troitskaya Tower

2. Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg

According to estimates, the second-largest city in the world is Saint Petersburg, which is also renowned for commemorating well-known events that are celebrated all around the nation and the globe. Saint Petersburg is regarded as one of the most contemporary cities to celebrate Christmas in Russia. 

Let’s take a look at some of the top locations that you should explore throughout the Christmas holidays in Saint Petersburg:

  • Hermitage Museum
  • Peterhof Palace
  • Moika Palace
  • Summer Palace
  • Bronze Horseman
  • Field of Mars
  • Marble Palace

3. Suzdal


In Russia, Suzdal is regarded as an ancient location. In terms of enhanced historic sites, this location is a unique place to enjoy Christmas in Russia. Here are some of the additional attractions you should take a look at  during the Christmas holidays in Russia:

  • Suzdal Kremlin
  • Monastery of Saint Euthymius
  • Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life
  • Torgovyye Ryady
  • Uspenskaya Tsekov
  • Transfiguration Cathedral
  • Wax Museum
  • Venerable Bell Tower
  • Friday Church
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4. Yaroslavl


As you embark on your journey of Christmas in Russia, make sure to include Yaroslavl on your itinerary for an unforgettable experience. It’s Russia’s one of the oldest cities, often regarded as a location for historic churches and monuments. A must-visit attraction in Yaroslavl is the magnificent Khram ll’i Proroka or the Church of Elijah the Prophet. This architectural masterpiece showcases the city’s rich religious heritage and offers a glimpse into the grandeur of Russian Orthodox church design.

The notable Baptist church and a picturesque spot  Strelka are some of the other unique locations you must see during your Christmas in Russia.

5. Kazan


Russia’s sports capital, Kazan is well-known for its hospitality and snowy atmosphere. Here you can delightfully experience the great ambiance of the winter season. 

These are some of the significant locations to visit while spending Christmas in Kazan:

  • Kazan Kremlin
  • Tatarstan
  • Suyumbike Tower
  • Epiphany Orthodox Cathedral
  • Pedestrian Baumana Street
  • Farmers’ Palace

Final Thoughts 

As you can see, enjoying Christmas in Russia while delighting in the country’s distinctive mix of traditions, rich cultural legacy spanning millennia, and enormous territorial extent is a truly inspirational adventure.  

The mixture of different perspectives results in an atmosphere that is a combination of enthralling and fascinating, whether it is the merging of Eastern and European aspects or the meeting of several distinct cultures. Experiencing Christmas in Russia encourages you to appreciate the splendor of multiculturalism, opens your eyes to fresh viewpoints, and awakens your emotions.

That’s why we believe observing Christmas in Russia is an opportunity to have an encounter that will extend your perspectives, capture your sense of wonder, and make a lasting impression on your inner being.  So, get ready for invaluable memories and observations that will reshape your perspective and deepen your awareness of the connections between traditions and individuals!

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