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Russian Christmas

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Russian Christmas Traditions and Recipes >>     

Russian Christmas


Prior to the Russian revolution, when the Russian orthodox church had great power, St Nicholas was a patron saint and like throughout Europe, Christmas was widely celebrated. St Nicholas continued to be a popular figure in Russia until the Russian Orthodox church fell out of power after the communist revolution of 1917. Thus St Nicholas had to go "underground" and the Russians began to reference Grandfather Frost, a character from Russian folk tails and Russian fairy tales, as their version of Santa Claus. 

Traditionally, Russian Christmas falls on January 7, following the old Julian calendar; but when the communists took control they banned this traditional day of religious celebration and New Years Day became the most important winter holiday. But make no mistake about it, Russian religion and Russian Christmas remained, just hidden and practiced "na leva", underground or "on the left".

In post-revolutionary Russia, Grandfather Frost (Russian Santa Claus) was the one to bring gifts to the children at New Years. In keeping with Russian folk tales and folklore, Grandfather Frost, the spirit of winter, is often accompanied by his granddaughter, the Snowmaiden, who helps deliver gifts. Traditionally, from the Russian fairy tales, Grandfather Frost wears a frosty blue coat instead of the red coat associated with America's Santa Clause. But with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the resurgence of the church in Russia, not only has St Nicholas re-emerged as a figurehead of generosity, gift giving and charity; but also today the Russian Santa Clause is alive and well and free to wear red!

Russian Christmas traditions evoke part of the traditional and part of the modern contemporary, including intricately hand-carved and hand-painted Grandfather Frost figurines; wondrous Russian Christmas ornaments, hand-made Russian nativities, one-of-a-kind Russian nutcrackers, and especially Russian Christmas themed nesting dolls. Other Russian decorative Russian Christmas art like Christmas themed lacquer boxes, painted porcelain, and Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden Matryoshka dolls make great gifts for children and collectors alike. 

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.....and a Grandfather Frost and a Snow Maiden.... as Christmas is celebrated in Russia with hand-crafted works of collectable art, unique gifts to mark the joy of Christmas, brought directly to you by the Russian American Company in Sitka Alaska for over 30 years.