Russians celebrate New Year’s, the first day of January, much as Canadians celebrate Christmas. Instead of Santa Claus, Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden distribute presents. On New Year’s Eve, families gather around a decorated tree and exchange presents. People have noisy parties late into the night. Christmas is celebrated more quietly on January 7. The date of Christmas is different because the Russian Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the calendar used in Canada.
Shrovetide occurs seven weeks before Easter and lasts for seven days. Many couples marry during this seven-day period. Shrovetide activities include noise-making, playing tricks, sledding and snowball fighting. In many towns people wear costumes and masks.

Easter is the main religious festival of the year. Easter service begins late on the eve of Easter and continues all night. At midnight, the congregation, carrying lit candles, follows the priest around the church three times and then outside, singing all the way.

 Did you know?
The eve of Lent is also known as the butter festival or maslenitsa. During this time Orthodox Russians eat pancakes. Some people celebrate the occasion by breaking holes in frozen lakes and rivers and swimming in icy water.

On International Women’s Day in March, friends and family give women flowers and gifts to show respect and appreciation.

May Day honours workers and the arrival of spring. People celebrate with songs and fireworks. Victory Day on May 9 commemorates the end of the Second World War. Flowers are laid at war memorials and a minute of silence is observed.

Church weddings are becoming increasingly popular in Russia. There are also wedding palaces where couples take civil vows in front of an official. Then the married couple will often go and lay flowers on the local war memorial.

Russia is so big that people can take vacations in a different climate and time zone without leaving the country. Traditionally, many Russians spent holidays at a health centre or spa.

January 1 New Year's Day
January 7 Russian Orthodox Christmas
March 8 International Women’s Day
May 1-2 Spring and Labour Day
May 9 Victory Day
June 12 Independence Day
August 22 Russian Federation State Flag Day
December 1 Constitution Day