Orthodox Christmas

Yuletide – holidays dedicated to the Nativity of Christ (January 7) – begin with the evening of Christmas Eve (January 6). Yuletide lasts until the feast of Epiphany (January 19).

The history of Christmas

In ancient times, the Christian Church celebrated Christmas and Epiphany on the same day. In the fourth century the holidays were divided by 12 days – Christmas holidays.

Traditions and customs

According to church tradition, there is no fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays during Yuletide. Also, on these days, people shouldn’t  get married (I’ve never heard of it).

The Eastern Slavs believed that the first day should be spent at home or with relatives. On the second day of Yuletide, all women bring their children under the age of 1 to the church for communion. From the third day, people were allowed to visit friends.

Despite the church’s ban on divination, this rite was quite common during the Yuletide period. Many girls guessed at the betrothed. They threw their boots over the fence and looked where the sock was looking, the groom was supposed to come from that side. (I did it myself. I don’t remember how old I was)

It was also believed that on the night before Christmas, you can find out the name of your future husband. To do this, the girls went outside and asked the first person they met what his name was. I did that once, too. It was very cold and late, there were almost no men on the streets, but there were many curious girls.

There are many other ways of divination for the betrothed. One of them: a girl puts a piece of bread under her pillow, thinking: “Betrothed, come to my house for dinner.” Then she goes to bed without talking to anyone. It is assumed that she will see the groom in a dream. I used to do that too when I was young


The main tradition of Yuletide is caroling. Starting on Christmas Eve, young people and children dressed up as a bear, horse, goat and cow and went to the homes of neighbors or fellow villagers. It was very important to have a large homemade star-a symbol of Christmas. The” design ” of stars in different parts of the country could be different.

Carolers (so called singers) performed festive church chants-songs dedicated to the birth of the Savior, good wishes to the owners of the house for the coming year, funny jokes. In response, they were treated to various goodies: pies, sweets, and money.

It was believed that the visit of carolers provided the owners with a rich harvest, well-being in the house.

Missing someone’s house was considered a great offense and a harbinger of trouble. An exception was made only for those houses where someone died during the year: there was usually no caroling.

When I was a kid, I don’t remember celebrating Christmas. Christmas was not a holiday at that time. After the fall of the communist era, many people simply didn’t know how to celebrate.

January 7 became an official holiday in 1991 but not for everyone. If you work, for example, in a store, you have to go to work, but you don’t get paid overtime.

Nowadays, people are trying to restore forgotten traditions. Some dress up and go to visit relatives, sing carols, and have fun.

Merry Christmas!

Materials used:


Author: Elena

Hi, My name is Elena. I am Russian living in the US. My blog is about my life and experience. This is my new hobby. So, please, don't be too hard on me. Thanks

2 thoughts on “Orthodox Christmas”

Add your thought here! Ваши мысли!