In the contrast to Catholics, Russians celebrate their Christmas on the 7th of January, according to the Orthodox Church calendar. After the October revolution in 1917 celebrating Christmas in Russia was forbidden as well as other religious holidays. It became an official holiday only 74 years later in 1991.
The celebration somewhat reminds Halloween. Children go from house to house wearing costumes, singing Christmas carols, and collecting gifts for their performances.
Christmas is a family holiday, so traditionally members of the family gather on Christmas Eve to share a special meal. Religious people fast for 39 days prior to this day and start their Christmas supper with a special meal, called Kutiya , which is a sweet soupy dish made from wheat, dried fruit, nuts, and honey. After the Kutiya the Holy Supper begins – a vegetarian meal that consists of 12 different dishes that represent 12 Apostles. After the supper the family goes to church.
The Orthodox church has a big Christmas service on this day that lasts until 2 in the morning. The ceremony is shown on TV, and Russian leading politicians, including the president, attend the service.