Russian Winter Holiday Traditions

Papyrus New Years Cards 2015

You might be surprised how different Russian and American holiday traditions, especially when it comes to winter holidays. I was born and raised in Russia where we celebrate New Years as the biggest holiday of the year. Even though I am Americanized now, some of the Russian traditions make me feel very nostalgic. I do enjoy the process of putting together a typical New Year’s table and celebrating until the late night or even morning. I was thinking that it might be interesting for you to learn some of the Russian traditions. Today I am sharing samples of Papyrus holiday card collection (c/o) and explain how Russians celebrate winter holidays.

1. Russians do not celebrate Christmas, all the fun stuff with a holiday tree and presents is happening at the New Year’s Eve. People are usually getting together around 9:00 pm and continue celebrating until the morning.

2. Russian people do not send holiday cards to each other. That’s right—they just call each other before or right after the New Year’s Eve and that is it. When I came to the United States, I didn’t know the Americans are sending each other personalized cards. It thought it was such a sweet tradition and I am a regular card sender myself. I usually send photo cards to family members and luxury cards by Papyrus to my colleagues or business contacts.

Papyrus Christmas Cards Collection 2015

3. There is a Russian version of Santa Clause called Ded Moroz (in translation, ‘Granddad Freeze’). Both holiday gift givers are wearing the same outfit and a beard, but they have different personalities. If Santa is a clumsy fellow, Ded Moroz is a strict and serious character whom you should beg for presents. Every Russian child knows that you better have a song, a poem, or a dance ready for the winter holidays to earn a gift from a Russian ‘Santa.’

4. At the New Year’s Eve people usually turn their TVs on and watch the President’s speech to the nation. After that, Russians will drink champagne, exchange the gifts, eat delicious food cooked hours in advance, and celebrate until the morning.

Papyrus Christmas Cards 2015

5. For Russians, New Years is not about a family gathering, it’s a national marathon of parties, special events, and celebration. Most of the people are not working from December 31st to January 10th and spend that time going to vacation, enjoying outdoors activities, and attending all sorts of events.

6. The most important day during that festive period is New Years Eve. People are getting ready way ahead of time: food (so much food that some people manage to eat leftovers until January 10th), presents, festive outfits, drinks, a holiday tree. Russians do decorate a Christmas tree, but it’s called a New Year’s Tree.

Papyrus Sweater Cards 2015

7. There is a whole thing about horoscopes that starts to pop up closer to the end of the year. For Russians, it’s important to know what is a symbolic animal for the upcoming year. Russian women always make sure that their festive outfit comes in the appropriate for the upcoming year color. Fashion magazines publish the list of outfit recommendations for each horoscope sign.

8. There is no such a thing as Santa’s helpers or deer. The entire staff of Ded Moroz team is his blond grand daughter, Snegurochka (in translation, a ‘girl made out of snow’). This lovely lady has a specific outfit that requires a white and blue faux fur jacket and a matching hat.

Papyrus Holiday Florals in Vase Card 2015

9. There is much more Ded Morozes and Snegurochkas than Santas. Every holiday party, whether it’s a corporate event or a school celebration, requires this couple. You can always find actors or acting students that are willing to perform at the party.

10. Russians buy a holiday tree on December 26 because these are less expensive after Christmas. By the way, Russians keep their evergreens in the house until January 14th when they celebrate a New Year’s based on a Gregorian calendar (it’s called Old New Year’s).

What are some of the winter holidays traditions that you enjoy the most?

Papyrus Winter Holiday Greeting Cards 2015Papyrus Merry Christmas Card 2015Papyrus Christmas Cards Shoes

  • What lovely cards! 🙂

    It was nice to hear about all your different Russian traditions too! 🙂 It’s fascinating seeing the differences in how everyone spends Christmas and New years.

    Away From The Blue Blog

  • Gorgeous cards ! It is so cool to hear how other countries celebrate the holidays. Thanks for sharing that.

  • Hi Katya! I loved this post and know a bit about your traditions. I’ve never been to Russia but I can see NYE would be the perfect time! In Spain, it’s usually the Three Wise Men who bring presents to kids on January 6th, so, it’s a bit crazy because we also have Santa Claus. Happy 2016 by the way! 🙂

    • Wow it’s amazing how people are having such different holiday traditions! Thank you for sharing your knowledge, Marta! Happy holidays!

  • We actually do celebrate Christmas, but officially and usually it’s January 7 🙂 And if New Year is more about gathering the whole family at one table, then Christmas is for friends (but of course it depends on different families and their own traditions)

    – Daria |

    • Well, I was talking specifically about my family traditions and we never really celebrate on January 7th. My Birthday is the day before so I guess it’s a bit too much for me to celebrate two days in a row. However, I know some people in Russia who celebrate January 1-10!

  • I love reading about your other cultures traditions, so this post was such a lovely read! My dad is from Latin America and in El Salvador they celebrate on Christmas Eve until Christmas morning with fireworks and of course warm weather. haha Because of that I feel like I get two days of Christmas, since my mom is from Pennsylvania.

    • I think it’s a great idea to celebrate twice. Why not, especially if you are allowed to receive two sets of gifts, right? 😉

  • Alexandra

    I love all of this. Have you seen the new digital fashion calendar ? I think you are going to love it!

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  • What an interesting post! In Spain, we eat 12 grapes (one grape for each month of the year) and drink champagne for NYE. And we eat something similar to nougat called turrón for Christmas time. Best regards from Barcelona,

    • Wow that’s an interesting idea to eat grapes! In Russia, some people write a wish on a napkin, then burn it, and drink it with champagne. In my opinion, it’s a bit too much, but there are so many people doing it that it’s definitely a tradition!

      P.S.–Happy holidays, Marta! I’ve been to Barcelona a few years ago and it’s one of my most beloved cities ever!

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  • thesundaygirluk

    So interesting to read about other festive traditions – here in Scotland NYE is pretty big too but we call it Hogmanay. As for the tree we (again Scotland) typically do the 12 days before Christmas rule for the Christmas tree and it comes down 12 days later too. I bet Christmas in NYC is pretty special though 🙂

  • This is so interesting to read, thank you for sharing. I love learning about other peoples traditions. New years eve is a pretty big thing in England too, but not as big as yours. So jealous you get like 10 days worth of activities! xx

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