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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Russia Series at RussianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Russian holidays and observances. I’m Jenny, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 2 - Christmas. In Russian, Christmas is Рождество.
Did you know that in Russia people don't give presents for Christmas? In this lesson, we will discuss how people celebrate Christmas in Russia.
Now, before we go into more detail, I’ve got a question for you - why is Christmas in Russia celebrated on January 7 and not on December 25?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Christmas, or as it's known in Russian Рождество (Razdestvo), is actually observed in Russia on January 7. It's a state holiday and a day off. As is the same in all Christian nations, Christmas in Russia is a celebrated as the birth of Jesus Christ. In Russian, Jesus Christ is called Иисус Христос (Iisus Khristos).
Christmas in Russia is a warm, family-centric holiday which most Russian people try to spend at home. In Russia, It's not customary to give each other presents for Christmas, there is no Santa Claus, and people don't especially decorate a Christmas tree. On this holy day, a great number of people attend celebratory church services, make confessions, and receive communion. It's customary to serve on a festive table, pork dishes such as aspic or холодец (Khaladets) in Russian, homemade sausages, and ragout.
The day before Christmas is called Сочельник (Sachel'nik), which means Christmas Eve. The word сочельник meaning “Christmas Eve” comes from the word сочиво (sochiva). Сочиво (sochiva) is a meatless porridge made from wheat with a little honey added. It's customary to make twelve meatless dishes for Christmas Eve, among which there should be sochiva, a porridge made from wheat, millet, rice or other grains with added poppy seeds, walnuts, raisins, and honey. Tradition dictates that all twelve dishes must be sampled, but none should be eaten completely in order to ensure that there will always be prosperity in the family.
On Christmas Eve, the Orthodox churches are decorated with a Nativity scene including small models of Bethlehem Cave. In Russian, the Bethlehem Cave is called Вифлеемская пещера (Vifleyemskaya peshchera) with small figures inside. The Nativity scene depicts the birth of Christ. The main decorations of the Nativity scene are the manger with the baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, or Дева Мария (Deva Maria), and Joseph, or Иосиф (Iosif).
In Russia, the tradition of Christmas divinations has been preserved right up until this day. Divinations made on the night of January 6 are considered the most accurate and truthful. On that night, young maidens request divinations about who their betrothed will be and when they will find love.
So then, why is Christmas celebrated on January 7 and not on December 25 in Russia?
It’s all because of the calendar. The Russian orthodox church uses the Julian calendar, or “The old calendar”. December 25th on the Julian calendar corresponds to January 7th on the Gregorian calendar.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
How is Christmas celebrated in your country?
Leave a comment at RussianPod101.com, and I’ll see you in the next lesson!

6 Comments

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RussianPod101.com
Monday at 6:30 pm
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How is Christmas celebrated in your country?

RussianPod101.com
Monday at 2:56 am
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Hello Emily,

Thank you for posting :smile:


Elena

Team RussianPod101.com

Emily
Friday at 4:51 am
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This is interesting. I have never heard the phrase "Bethlehem Cave" in English before. I wonder if it is because I am not Catholic? In our religion we have a nativity scene, but I have never heard of a cave.

RusisanPod101.com
Tuesday at 7:26 am
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Hello Кристобаль,

Спасибо за информацию :smile:


Елена

Team RussianPod101.com

Кристобаль
Saturday at 5:25 am
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В моей стране (Мексико), мы обедаем с семьей и друзьями 24 декабря.

Tuesday at 1:39 pm
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Hi ton smit,


Thank you for your comment and feedback.

You can find the transcript of this lessons under Download PDFs (over the title).

Each series has its own purpose, this one is meant to teach you a few vocabulary words related to the main Russian holidays, plus cultural facts and the holidays background and traditions!


Have you tried this other series yet? - https://www.russianpod101.com/index.php?cat=52

Let us know if you have questions.


Sincerely,

Laura

Team RussianPod101.com