As Christmas is approaching, and me and Chris were both in kind of a holiday-ish mood, we had a conversation about Christmas traditions in our countries. In Germany, and, I think, pretty much in every European country, Christmas is a family holiday that lasts from 24 to 26 of December. It is accompanied by country’s legends and fairytales being told. In Germany they have St Nikolaus and Krampus instead of Santa.
But as for Russia, we don’t celebrate Christmas on 25th of December at all. Our orthodox church celebrates Christmas at January 7th and that is rather a religious holiday than a family gathering with traditional meals. A lot of (religious) people go to church, children and teens sing Christian carols to get something from their parents (most likely some small amount of money, but if they go caroling to their neighbors, they can get some sweets or something like that). Tradition of Christmas caroling is not that popular in the biggest cities of Russia as far as I know (because I’ve never done that and don’t know anyone in St Petersburg who had), but when I was in Tambov my girlfriend (21 y.o.) did it with her parents and grandparents. Plus when I’ve stayed at an apartment there with my grandmom, some boys (approx. 20+ y.o.) came caroling too, and my grandmom gave them some sweets and a couple of fruits.
However, we do greatly celebrate the New Year’s Eve. For most of the people this is that family holiday with the table full of traditional meals. The only difference from Catholic Christmas I think is that we start celebrating in evening, and the major celebration starts after midnight, as the New Year comes. Of course, some people don’t celebrate it with their parents, but rather with their friends or partner, but still gathering together with people (or at least a person) who is important to you is a must.
We then slipped into discussing other national holidays, and Chris told me about Schützenfest from Schützenvereine – a shooting fest, which happens on an annual basis in summer, when people shoot from air rifles and crossbows. Every city has it’s own dates for this fest, so it’s possible to travel through Germany the whole summer and continuously attend those fests in different cities.
I, in return, told Chris a thing about Day of Victory on May 9th in Russia. It is a celebration of defeating Nazis back in 1945, and, as Chris well noticed in his blogpost about this, it is controversial among Russians (especially younger ones) whether the way it’s celebrated is adequate or not. Since it’s highly militarized, and everyone dresses their children as soldiers or combat nurses, and government makes a huge parade on the Red Square every year, people tend to judge it for praising war and strong army force.
However, there is a chance of meeting up in January! Since I’m passing my Finnish exam at 10th of December, I will need to come to Tampere, so there’s a high chance of me getting to hang out with Chris and other classmates of ours! I’m really looking forward to it!