In Siberia, Christmas falls on the most chilling day of the year - January 7th. Yes, the Siberians follow the Julian calendar. Being ruled by communists for a long time, Russia did not see Christmas as a significant festival for a long time. While they celebrated the New Year with great zeal and importance, Christmas was just seen as an extension of the New Year celebrations. However, Christmas is now becoming more significant and through the past two decades, people have started showing significant interest in erecting Christmas trees and decorating their homes despite the freezing winter where temperature goes to as low as -12 degrees. Siberians also have a gift bringing figure, Father Frost, who has close resemblance to Sinterklass. Siberians celebrate Christmas by attending mass and conducting prayers followed by a grand feast. Read further to have a closer view of Siberian Christmas.
Christmas Celebrations In Siberia
Siberian Christmas falls on 7th January as they follow Julian calendar which differs from the Gregorian calendar by 13 days. Christmas in Siberia is more of a religious event that a festival season as celebrated in other parts of the world. The Siberians perform ceremonial long services including vespers, royal hours on Christmas Eve i.e. 6th of January. Families have the grand Holy Supper with 12 dishes, representing the twelve Apostles of Jesus. Post-supper, the families visit church for All Night Vigil. They visit the church again on Christmas Morning to attend the Divine Liturgy of Nativity. Christmas celebrations were suppressed, not only in Siberia but all over Russia, by the Communist government. The celebrations were re-introduced during 1992. As Christmas falls immediately after the New Year, it is celebrated with great zeal all over Siberia.
In early records and stories, Ded Moroz was described as a wicked and cruel sorcerer, who enjoyed freezing people and kidnaping children in his gigantic sack. It is believed that parents of kidnapped children had to pay him a good amount of ransom to get their children released. Gradually, due to the influence of the Orthodox traditions, Ded Moroz got transformed completely to Grandfather Frost, adopting certain traits from the Dutch Sinterklaas. Thus, in Russia, including Siberia, Father Frost became a Christmas figure.
Snow maiden or Snegurochka is a character in Russian fairy tales who is mentioned as the granddaughter of Father Frost whereas in some other versions, she is depicted as his daughter. The story of Snow Maiden says that she is the daughter of spring and frost and was not supposed to mingle with human beings. As she grows, she began to like a shepherd but was not able to recognize the emotion of love. Her mother felt her pain and gave her the ability to love. However, her heart melted off as soon as she started loving him.
Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden appear in many stories and fables across Russia. Their stories keep the children riveted and there enigma for Christmas grows.