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Russian Festivals
St. Nicholas Day

    It is Orthodoxal Russian custom - to serve Christmas cakes, to sing songs but the tradition is mixed with pagan traditions of ancient Rus (Russia) - similar to "trick or treat" when people visit their neighbours in disguises, dance, sing and ask for presents.

    Many superstitious traditions took place in the time: witchcraft or fortune telling... Girls tried to foresee their future husbands, fates and so on.

    On Christmas Day, hymns and carols are sung. People gather in churches and the churches are decorated with the usual Christmas trees (Yelka), flowers and colored lights.

    Christmas dinner includes a variety of different meats - goose and suckling pig are favourites.

    Babushka is a traditional Christmas figure who distributes presents to children.

    Hay is spread on floors and tables to encourage horse feed to grow.

    The role of Father Christmas was played by Dedushka Moroz (Grandfather Christmas).

    December 6th marks the Feast Day of St. Nicholas of Myra; a Turkish bishop who became the patron saint of Moscow and Santa to the world. Due to the suppression of religion during the Soviet regime, St. Nicholas was replaced by Ded Moroz or Grandfather Frost, the Russian Spirit of Winter who brought gifts on New Year's. He is accompanied by Snyegurochka, the Snow maiden, who helps distribute the gifts.

    The Christmas tree or Yolka is yet another tradition banned during the Soviet era. To keep the custom alive, people decorated New Year's trees, instead. Since ornaments were either very costly or unavailable, family trees were trimmed with homemade decorations and fruit. Yolka comes from the word which refers to a fir tree. The custom of decorating Christmas trees was introduced to Russia by Peter the Great, after he visited Europe during the 1700's.

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