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Russian Orthodox Christmas


Orthodox Christianity played a pivotal role in the formulation of Imperial Russia, was pushed to the brink of irrelevance during the soviet years of state atheism and yet, once again, is now slowly imprinting its system of values and beliefs on the cultural and political agenda of the Russian Federation.

The Russian Orthodox Church is a key branch of the Eastern Orthodox tradition that split from what is now known as Roman Catholicism around 1000AD. Currently,it is estimated that Russia is home to approximately 40% of all Orthodox Christians, with neighbouring countries such as Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova also retaining significant congregations. Whilst western Christianity follows the Gregorian calendar, Russian Orthodox religion is based upon the Julian calendar. Introduced by Julius Caesar in 46BC, it contends that the year – by days – is very slightly longer than the widely accepted Gregorian; thus,the Julian calendar is today approximately fourteen days behind. This slight elongation of the calendar year explains why Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January the 7th.

In Julian calendar terms, it is still celebrated on December 25th – however this day of the year happens to fall fourteen days after the Gregorian version. As with modern-day western Christianity, Russian Orthodox Christmas is in recognition of the same fundamental events within the Christian tradition – principally the arrival of God on Earth and the birth of Jesus Christ. In a cultural sense, the atheistic policies adopted during the soviet twentieth-century have had a lasting effect on how Christmas is recognised and celebrated by Russian Christians today. Whilst in western Christianity, Christmas is the focal point of a yearly celebration of faith, family and renewal; it could
be argued that the celebration of the secular New Year has supplanted this within Russian society.

Today the festive season in Russia is,like in western tradition, a time for family, for food and for celebration. Perhaps reflective of the diverse ethnic, religious and cultural composition of modern-day Russia– these celebrations are as varied as any nation on earth. Whilst this makes a white Russia an even more intriguing destination at year’s end; expect to still meet Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) amongst the many tinsel laden spruce trees.(Grandfather Frost) amon tinsel laden spruce trees.

Join us on an incredible Trans Mongolian Christmas journey and experience Russian Christmas.

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