|17th century Christmas card|
During the Soviet era, religious celebrations were discouraged by the officially atheist state. As a result, Christmas celebrations in Russia were not common as in Western countries. Instead, emphasis was shifted to the secular New Year celebration. In the Russian Orthodox Church, Christmas is celebrated on the January 7 (or strictly speaking, December 25 on the Julian Calendar, which is now 13 days behind the internationally used Gregorian Calendar). The tradition of celebrating Christmas has been revived since 1992, after decades of suppression by the Communist government. It is now a national holiday and increasingly important, but many Russians continue to focus on the New Year's celebration.
Unlike its Western counterparts, Christmas is mainly a religious event in Russia. On Christmas Eve (6 January), there are several long services, including the Royal Hours and Vespers combined with the Divine Liturgy. Devout families will then return to church for the "всеночная" All Night Vigil. Then again, on Christmas Morning, for the "заутренняя" Divine Liturgy of the Nativity.
During the Soviet period, Christmas traditions were largely kept alive by shifting many of them, including the visit by gift-giving "Dyed Moroz" (Дед Мороз) "Grandfather Frost" and his granddaughter, "Snegurochka" (Снегурочка) "The Snowmaiden", to New Year's Day. Many current Russian Christmas customs have been preserved through the New Year's celebration. This includes the decoration of a tree, or "yolka" (spruce, or sometimes pine), festive decorations and family gatherings.
Divna Ljubojevic - Troparion (Tone 4)
Тропарь праздника (глас 4)
Рождество Твое, Христе Боже наш,
возсия мирови свет разума,
в нем бо звездам служащии
звездою учахуся Тебе кланятися,
и Тебе ведети с высоты Востока.
Господи, слава Тебе!
Troparion (Tone 4)
Your Nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom!
For by it, those who worshipped the stars,
Were taught by a Star to adore You,
The Sun of Righteousness,
And to know You, the Orient from on High.
O Lord, glory to You!
Kontakion (Tone 3)
Icon: Andrei Rublev - NATIVITY OF CHRIST (1405)
Singing: Monastic Choir of the Valaam Monastery - KONDAKION OF THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST
Икона: Андрей Рублев - РОЖДЕСТВО ХРИСТОВО (1405)
Хор братии Валаамского монастыря: KОНДАК РОЖДЕСТВА ХРИСТОВА
Кондак праздника (глас 3)
Дева днесь Пресущественнаго раждает,
и земля вертеп Неприступному приносит,
Ангели с пастырьми славословят,
волсви же со звездою путешествуют,
нас бо ради родися Отроча Младо, Превечный Бог.
Kontakion (Tone 3)
Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One,
And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One!
Angels with shepherds glorify Him!
The wise men journey with a star!
Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!