Public holidays: January 1-2 The major family holiday in Russia. See below about Christmas.
Christmas was banned as a holiday by the Soviet regime but was restored to its former status in 1991, and now it is a public holiday. In 1918, the old Julian calendar, which had been used in Russia for 930 years, was abandoned and replaced with the Gregorian calendar, which had already been used for a long time in many countries. The difference between the Julian and the Gregorian calendar is the length of the year. The Julian year is 365.25 days, whereas the Gregorian year is 365.2425 days. This means, for instance, that January 1 in the Julian year comes one day later every 128 years, according to the Gregorian calendar. The next time there will be any noticeable difference is in the year 2100, which will be a leap year in the Julian calendar but not in the Gregorian, so the Julian year 2100 will be one year longer. oThe difference between the Julian calendar and the Gregorian one was 13 days when the Soviet Union abandoned the Julian calendar. Remarkably enough, the Russian Orthodox Church is still using the Julian calendar, so Christmas Day is celebrated 13 days after the Catholic and Protestant Christmas Day, that is on January 7. oNaturally, not many of the Russians of today remember what it was like to celebrate Christmas in Russia before the revolution. New Year took the role of Christmas regarding the giving of presents, Grandfather Frost (the equivalent of Father Christmas and Santa Claus) the gathering of the family. However, it seems that Russia will take up some of the old traditions again, and in the future we may see more presents given at Christmas than at the New Year.
Easter April 27 was the only religious holiday which was accepted under the atheist Communist rule, but the connections with Jesus were toned down. In at least one sense there was a true connection with Jesus: People greeted each other with "Khristos voskres!" and answered "Voistinu voskres!" (Christ has risen! -- Truly risen!). oThe painting of eggs at Easter in Russia is famous. oEaster is celebrated one week after the Catholic and Protestant Easter.