They say it is worth spending Christmas in Moscow, as there is plenty of snow and wonderful winter scenery. There is just a minor disadvantage: nobody, except foreigners will be celebrating Christmas on the 25th of December.
The Russian Orthodox still use the Julian church calender, according to which December 25 falls on January 7 on the Gregorian calendar. This will be the time when Russian believers will have their celebrations for the birth of Jesus Christ and will go to church.
The attributes of Christmas in the West have been assigned by the Russians to New Year’s, including the lighted Christmas tree, the gifts under the tree, the Christmas cards, the town decorations and Santa Claus. And it all starts on December 31st, when people would spend their midnight drinking and exchanging gifts, spending time with their friends and families or attend special events.
After the revolution, the Soviet state tried to put stop the celebration of Christmas as they perceived the traditional decorated trees as a symbol that did not fit the new atheist society. However, people didn’t find it quite so easy to give up on this cheerful winter event. Stalin decided to lift the ban on Christmas trees, and bring Christmas together with New Year, this way they would be New Year’s trees. He also announced that New Year, Novyi God, was going to be like a family celebration; it was some kind of a Christmas but with no Christian meaning attached to it, The New York Times reports.
Currently, New Year is people’s favorite and probably the most popular holiday in the official Soviet calender. The streets are nicely decorated with lighted trees, waiting for Grandpa Frost, the Russian Santa Claus, to arrive with lots of presents.
The Russian New Year is in fact what Christmas is right now for the Western world, a day of joy and celebration, a day to spend time with your closest friends or with your family and of course, sharing gifts and putting presents under the trees, in a house traditionally decorated with bright lights and cards.
If you are just on holiday in Moscow, or you are a foreigner living in Moscow, the best place to go to on New Year’s Eve is Red Square. People gather there every year to sing and dance and drink champagne and of course, wait for the stroke of midnight. With a bit of snow it feels even better.