Celebrate Upcoming Russian Winter Holidays with our special offers27.10.2011
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In Russia, winter holidays are celebrated differently than in the United States and most of the West. Although the underlying substance of the winter holidays — presents, trees, family gatherings — is the same, it corresponds to different holidays and customs. This results from a blend of Russian national tradition, the influence of Eastern Orthodox heritage.
The welcoming of the New Year is considered the most significant occasion of the winter. The New Year's tree is identical to a Christmas tree, although of course there is nothing in its name that binds it to a given holiday. It is decorated in the same way, with ornaments, lights and garland.
Folklore holds that Ded Moroz ( «Grandfather Frost») is charged with the responsibility for delivering presents on New Year's Eve. The most traditional New Year celebration is held in Kremlin. More than, 50,000 people gather for the festivities and the tickets are sold weeks before the annual event.
Christmas is celebrated in Russia as a religious holiday. Because the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize the Gregorian calendar, religious events are timed according to the Julian calendar. This means that Christmas falls on the 7th of January. Christmas was stripped of official recognition as a holiday after the 1917 revolution, and it was not re-established as such until 1992, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Maslenitsa is also known as Butter Week, Pancake week, is a Russian religious and folk holiday. It is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent—that is, the seventh week before Pascha (Easter).
However, it was widely observed in families without its religious significance, just as an opportunity to prepare pancakes with all sorts of fillings and coverings and to eat them with friends.
Maslenitsa also includes masquerades, snowball fights, sledding, riding on swings and plenty of sleigh rides. In some regions, each day of Maslenitsa had its traditional activity: one day for sleigh-riding, another for the sons-in-law to visit their parents-in-law, another day for visiting the godparents, etc. The mascot of the celebration is usually a brightly dressed straw effigy of Lady Maslenitsa, formerly known as Kostroma.