Russia is a country with a long and turbulent history. Many old-established religious celebrations, which were forbidden after the Russian Revolution of 1917, returned to the Russian calendar. In spite of everything, Old Christmas Glorification has not been forgotten.
Nowadays, Russian people celebrate Christmas as one of the greatest Christian feasts. The Russian Orthodox Church uses the old Julian Orthodox calendar. For this reason, the Russians celebrate Christmas on January 7th.
Celebrating Christmas Eve: Family dinner and Fasting for Holy days
Christmas Eve is a day of strict fasting. On this day, the whole family is together, preparing Christmas Eve dinner. It is called “Holy Supper”.
According to the old custom, people don’t eat anything until the appearance of the star. That symbolizes the star that led the shepherds to the cradle of the Baby Jesus. Then, they set the table with a white tablecloth to symbolize white linen cloth by which Christ was wrapped after birth. A different cereal crops such as barley, oats, wheat, corn, rye which symbolize hope are served on table.
Kutia (Kutya) is the most famous dish for this occasion. This is a type of porridge, a soft food made by boiling cereals, with the addition of poppy seeds and honey. Poppy milk and water that is mixed with honey symbolize happiness and peace. Dried fruits, fruit jellies and nuts can also be tasty additions.
Besides Kutia, Vzvar, as traditional Russian ritual drink, are served at the beginning of the Russian Holy Supper. The Russian Vzvar consists of the following ingredients: Dried prunes, dried apples, sugar and water. All these ingredients are mixed and cooked, by symbolizing the arrival of Jesus Christ.
Christmas at Traditional Russian table
In Russia, Christmas day is official national holiday. There is interesting Christmas custom that is cherished for centuries in Russia. The twelve different types of food must be found at the festive Christmas table. In this way Christians show their respect for the twelve Apostles.
These are some of great, must-try dishes, which are prepared in the traditional Russian manner:
- Kholodets (jelly made of pork and beef, in aspic, also known as Meat Jelly or Studen).
- Fish and seafood delicacies, such as “Ossetrina pod Syrom” (Baked Sturgeon with cheese), Cherepakha turtle salad, Caviar, Smoked Salmon, etc.
- Lentils in different ways, such as “Russian red Lentil soup” and the other great recipies.
- Pork, Lamb, homemade sausages, and plentiful, delicious meals such as Shashlik, Beef Stroganov, etc.
- Goose Meat or Duck meat with apples.
- Vegetable soups, for example Rassolnik, Okroshka, Shchi.
- Bliny is a kind of Crepes (pancakes).
- Cakes such as Pastila, Ptichie Moloko (Birds’ Milk Cake), Chak-chak and so on.
Of course, a big day, such as Christmas is unimaginable without national drinks. For example: Birch sap (Biarozavy sok), Cranberry Water with Honey, Kisel, etc.
Russian Christmastide, or Svyatki, lasts from 7th to 19th January. This is also called “Twelve days of Christmas”. This festival includes a celebration of Orthodox Christmas and New Year, as well as celebration of Russian, Orthodox culture with numerous other traditional celebrations.