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The world embraces a wide range of cultures, each one celebrating the festive holidays of Christmas and New Year in their traditional ways.

In Russia, they use the Julian calendar for religious celebration days, as recognised by the Russian Orthodox Church, which means that Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January. New Year is a much bigger event than Christmas, and they have two! The first on December 31st, where they celebrate big style with fireworks and parties just like everywhere else, and the Orthodox version on January 14th, a quiet event usually spent with the family.

Merry Christmas from Grandfather Frost

There was a time, during the Soviet days, when Christmas was banned for religious reasons, which resulted in some of the traditional celebrations being moved to New Year. There is no Christmas tree, instead, they have a New Year tree, a Novogodnaya Yolka, which stays up for the two New Year’s holidays. Also, Santa doesn’t visit on Christmas Eve to deliver presents, the children of Russia are visited by Ded Moroz, otherwise known as Grandfather Frost. And don’t expect him to have elves to give out gifts, he brings along his granddaughter to help, Snegurochka, The Snow Maiden.
Christmas dinner in Russia generally includes hot roast Pirog, pies made with meat, cabbage, and Pelmeni dumplings. The main dish is a type of porridge called Kutya, that’s prepared with wheatberries to represent hope and immortality, and honey and poppy seeds for happiness, success and peace.

Happy New Year

All the big cities in Russia have festive events, music concerts and street fairs with city squares decorated with fir trees, lights and sparkly decorations. Traditionally, on 31st December, Russians spend the first part of the evening with the family and enjoy a late dinner together, one of the main dishes prepared for New Year is Salad Olivier, a mix of boiled potatoes, meat or ham with boiled carrots, onions and pickles.
After eating they watch Putin address the country from Red Square, looking back on the year’s achievements, and encouraging everyone to look to the future, and on the stroke of midnight, the Kremlin Spasskaya Clock Tower chimes and the Russian national anthem plays. Now the festivities can really begin, some people like to meet up with friends, go to one of many house parties, or hit the busy bars and night clubs.

Russian Celebrations in Phuket

Most Russians have time off during the holidays, as it’s bitterly cold in Russia they take this opportunity to travel to another country seeking some sunshine and heat. One of the most popular holiday destinations at this time is Thailand and its beautiful southern islands of Koh Samui and Phuket.

Phuket is very popular with Russian visitors during the festive holidays due to its great weather, fabulous beaches and views, and calm waters, ideal for swimming. The people are friendly, the food delicious, and there’s an affordable range of resorts as well as five-star luxury. Phuket also has a Holy Trinity Orthodox Russian Church for those wanting to attend the Christmas service.

Some of the larger hotels’ and beach clubs welcome Russian visitors with festive events and food. Catch Beach Club, on Bang Tao Beach, are offering an Orthodox Christmas Brunch on 7th January, followed by the Orthodox New Year’s Day Brunch on the 14th January with a seafood assortment, including Boston lobster, French oysters, and tiger prawns. There’s also an international cheese selection, whole spit lamb, and a BBQ station. To finish it all off, this beach brunch has a magnificent chocolate fountain, and of course, there are several traditional Russian dishes to make them feel right at home.

So, have a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year, and ‘‘пусть все твои мечты сбываются.’