I know that everyone is really curious to know about the Christmas traditions in Petro. Since I have lots of free time on my hands for the time being....I did a bit of research (since I was curious too!! and I also want to incorporate some of the traditions in our own celebrations). So...here is what I found out:
In the days of the Soviet Union, Christmas was not celebrated very much. New Year was the important time. With the fall of Communism, Christmas is openly celebrated - either on December 25th, or more often, on January 7th. The date is different because the Russian Orthodox church uses the old 'Julian' calendar for religious celebration days. The Orthodox Church also celebrates Advent. But it has fixed dates, starting on 28th November and going to the 6th January, so it's 40 days long.
The offical Christmas and New holidays in Russia lasts from 31st of December to the 10th of January. The Russian Christmas greating is 'S Rozhdestvom!'.
New Year celebrations are still very important to Russians (more than Christmas).
This is when - when 'Father Frost' (known in Russian as 'Ded Moroz') brings presents to children. He is always acompanied by his Grandaughter (Snegurochka). On New Year's eve children hold hands, make a circle around the Christmas tree and call for Snegurochka or Ded Moroz. When they appear the star and other lights on the Christmas tree light up! The traditional greeting for Happy New Year is 'S Novym Godom'.
The "Holy Supper"Christmas Eve dinner is meatless but festive. The most important ingredient is a special porridge called kutya. It is made of wheatberries or other grains which symbolize hope and immortality, and honey and poppy seeds which ensure happiness, success, and untroubled rest. A ceremony involving the blessing of the home is frequently observed. The kutya is eaten from a common dish to symbolize unity. Some families used to throw a spoonful of kutya up to the ceiling. According to tradition, if the kutya stuck, there would be a plentiful honey harvest.
Traditionally, the "Holy Supper" consists of 12 different foods, symbolic of the 12 Apostles. Although there was also some variation in the foods from place to place and village to village, the following is a good summary of what was typically served. The twelve foods are:
1) Mushroom soup with zaprashka; this is often replaced with Sauerkraut soup
2) Lenten bread ("pagach")
3) Grated garlic
4) Bowl of honey
5) Baked cod
6) Fresh Apricots, Oranges, Figs and Dates
8) Kidney beans (slow cooked all day) seasoned with shredded potatoes, lots of garlic, salt and pepper to taste
10) Parsley Potatoes (boiled new potatoes with chopped parsley and margarine)
11) Bobal'ki (small biscuits combined with sauerkraut or poppyseed with honey)
12) Red Wine
Hmmm...love the idea of 12 dishes!!! I have not doubt that we could incorporate it in an Acadian/Swedish Christmas ;0) (hear that, Mom...lots of cooking!!! How I will miss mes "Tartes a la viande"...)