Even though today is not Christmas….

… Merry Christmas to all the people who are celebrating today!

Here in Russia the Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas, of course, on December 25th, but (yes, there is a but, hence the title of the post!) December 25th on Julius Cesar’s calendar, not this new (1582) Gregorian calendar… Between the two there is currently a difference of 13 days and, as a result, the Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January the 7th.

Today is a normal working day here in Russia (a rather appalling fact for the expats living here) and the winter holidays begin on December 31st, when Russia welcomes the new Year. Once again the Orthodox church hasn’t caught up with the new calendar, so there is an aptly named Old New Year, which is celebrated between January 12th and 13th…

Under the state atheism of the Soviet Union, after its foundation in 1917, Christmas celebrations, along with other Christian holidays, were prohibited in public. During the 1920s, 30s and 40s, the League of Militant Atheists encouraged school pupils to campaign against Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, as well as other Christian holidays, including Easter; the League established an antireligious holiday to be the 31st of each month as a replacement. It was not until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the persecution ended and Orthodox Christmas became a state holiday again for the first time in Russia after seven decades.

Today most public and private offices close from December 31st all the way to January 10th. So, if the people are feeling blue because the holidays are over and they have to go back to work, they can still console themselves thinking that in a couple of days they can celebrate again for the aforementioned “Old New Year” ….

So, once again, no matter which day you celebrate, Merry Christmas to you all and, of course, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, season’s greeting and happy new year… or, even better, happy new year and happy old new year to all!

P.S. Sorry that I am have not been writing much on the blog and I won’t, either, for the next couple of weeks, but I have been hard at work for a “surprise” that I am hoping to share with you all as soon as possible! 🙂

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