“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” (Bracken). I think that this quote is the best description of Christmas, which defines this holiday as the one that unites the family and brings warmth and happiness to every house. This essay will seek to compare celebration of Christmas in Russia and the USA.
I wonder what specific traditions Russians have for this great feast and how much the celebration in Russia differs from that in the USA.
First thing to be noted is that in Russia Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, thirteen days later the celebration it in the USA. Russian Orthodox Church uses the Old Julian calendar so the dates of celebration do not coincide. In the USA Christmas is being celebrated before the New Year and is one of the most important federal and church holidays for the Americans, while in Russia New Year is considered to be the greatest holiday, and Christmas is so actively celebrated. I believe that the spirit of Christmas is something that has to be present in every house, and no matter when it is celebrated on 26th of December or in thirteen days after that.
In the USA it is common to give presents and send greeting cards at Christmas. Shopping boom in this period has become usual too. Markets are filled with new products and as shopping season is at its peak, the shops remain opened until the midnight. They are full of clients and every customer wants to buy something special for his/her family and friends to show how much he or she loves them. In Russia, the tradition to give presents at Christmas is not so popular. The event for this pleasant procedure is theNew Year’s Eve.
In the USA the imaginable person to bring presents is Santa Claus, and in Russia, this important job is done by Father Frost. The origin of Santa Claus is St. Nicholas. He lived in 4th century and was a Greek Christian bishop. Nicolas was famous for his generous gifts to poor people. As it has been already mentioned, in Russia St. Nicholas was changed by Grandfather Frost or “Ded Moroz”. It has happened due to the prohibition of religion during the Soviet period. Actually, Ded Moroz has the same duties as Santa, but this one has a companion whose name is Snowmaiden or Snyegurochka. She is believed to be his granddaughter and helps him to deliver gifts.
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One more Christmas attribute that is common for both countries is New Years tree or Christmas tree. It is decorated with different Christmas balls, ornaments and usually, there is a star at the top of it that corresponds to the star of Bethlehem. The tradition of decorating Christmas trees was introduced to Russia by Peter the Great, after his visit to Europe during the 1700’s. As for the USA Christmas tree always has been an important element of celebrating this great holiday.
On the 7th of January Russians have the “Holly supper” that consists of twelve foods, symbolizing the twelve apostles. The most important ingredient is a special dish “Kutia”. It is being cooked almost in every family. Kutia is made of grains which symbolize hope and immortality, and poppy seeds which represent happiness, success, and untroubled rest. Honey is also an important ingredient. In the USA, traditional Christmas meals are roasted turkey, squash, roasted root vegetables and mashed potatoes, etc.
The quotation of Marjorie Holmes “At Christmas, all roads lead home” (Holmes), would be appropriate to make a conclusion, because despite the difference in celebrating this holiday in the USA and Russia, the main idea is to have a Christmas spirit in heart and share love and kindness with the family and friends. Moreover, it is magnificent that during this day a lot of people send money to help the poor, so that they could also celebrate Christmas. “Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts” (Maeditere).