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.
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.
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 carolling. 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.
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.
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.