Russian Traditions Through the Year

Traditional Holidays, Festivals, Feasts, and Customs

Laquered dolls for sale at a tourist shop.
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Russian traditions are one component of Russian culture that attract visitors to Europe's largest country. Most travelers may be familiar with common Christmas and Easter traditions, but Russians don't pay homage to their pagan and Christian ancestors' way of doing things only twice a year. The Russian annual traditions calendar is full of exciting, and sometimes strange, customs, from bathing in ice water at Epiphany to Ded Moroz's appearance on New Year's Eve.

This article deals with Russian traditions through the year. If you'd like to know when certain holidays occur, check out the Russian holidays page.

  • 01 of 08
    Sakhalin, Yuzhno Sakhalin, Russia, Ice figures in the main square for New Years celebrations
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    The majority of Russians celebrate New Year's Day with the rest of the world on January 1st. But an older New Year's Day tradition sees the start of the year as January 14th. Russia's New Year celebrations include the lighting of the New Year's tree and a visit from Ded Moroz, the Russian Santa.

  • 02 of 08
    Celebrations at Palace Square
    ••• Celebrations at Palace Square. Nadia Isakova / Getty Images

    Christmas in Russia occurs in January. Eclipsed by New Year's celebrations, Russian Christmas is somewhat less important than it is in other Eastern European nations. Christmas is a time for visiting family, attending church services, and enjoying a Christmas feast.

  • 03 of 08

    Sviatki, Russian Christmastide

    Man swimming in iceberg glacier
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    Sviatki, or Svyatki, falls between January 7th (Orthodox Christmas) and January 19th (Epiphany). Christmastide is a time for remembering old traditions, like fortune telling and caroling. The most devout end this religious period by taking a dip in the icy water of a river or stream, said to be bestowed with magical powers on Epiphany.

  • 04 of 08
    Maslenitsa Holiday in Russia
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    Maslenitsa is Russia's festive pre-Lenten custom. Children play games, mothers and grandmothers cook up big stacks of pancakes, and cities hold festivals during which the effigy of Maslenitsa herself is burnt in order to welcome springtime weather and the return of the sun.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    Tensions Continue In Eastern Ukraine Despite Diplomatic Progress
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    Predominately Orthodox, Russians celebrate Easter according to the Eastern calendar. The Easter church service begins the night before. Candles serve to light the church until dawn breaks, and bells announce the arrival of Easter. Easter eggs and Easter foods are an important part of Russian Easter customs.

  • 06 of 08
    Moscow Celebrates Victory Day 70th Anniversary
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    Victory day remembers service members and Russia's participation in WWII. This day is typically marked with parades, the military parade on Red Square being the largest and best known.

  • 07 of 08
    Kremlin Guard At Russian Winter Festival
    ••• Kremlin Guard at Russian Winter Festival. Jeremy O'Donnell / Getty Images

    Winter in Russia is long and hard, but Russians know how to inject fun into even sub-zero weather. It begins in December and continues into January. The winter festival isn't limited to Moscow; cities across Russia alleviate the darkness of winter by hosting winter-festival-related events.

  • 08 of 08

    Year-Round Traditions

    Russian samovar
    ••• Dishka / Getty Images

    Some Russian traditions can be experienced year-round. Read more about: