If you are sending gifts to Russia or flowers to Russia this holiday season, then there are certain customs you should know before you arrange a delivery. Most notably, much of the nation celebrates the winter holidays in January. While most Americans celebrate Christmas at the end of December, many Russians observe Russian Christmas on January 7th, and practically every Russian celebrates the New Year in grand style.
Because the Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar to determine religious holidays, some Russians celebrate Christmas on January 7th. December 25th celebrations are commonly referred to the Catholic Christmas holiday (even though many protestants celebrate on this day as well). Knowing which time period your recipient celebrates can help you time your gift delivery to Russia correctly. However, a time of universal celebration is New Year. It is actually the more widely and extravagantly celebrated holiday. Therefore, a great alternative to sending a Christmas gift to Russia is to send a general holiday gift or a “New Year gift” that can be used to celebrate the New Year.
When Russia was a part of the Soviet Union, Christmas was not widely or openly celebrated. As a result, New Years celebrations became much larger and came to include gift exchanges and New Years trees. However, after the fall of Soviet Union, Christmas began to be openly celebrated again. Even today many Russians refer to their trees as New Years trees and their gifts as New Years gifts.
On Christmas the family gathers around the table to honor the coming Christ Child. A white tablecloth is used to symbolize Christ’s swaddling clothes and hay is displayed as a reminder of the poverty of the place where Jesus was born. A tall white candle is placed in the center of the Table, to symbolize Christ – the “Light of the World.” A large round loaf of “pagach”, a special Lenten bread, is placed beside the candle to symbolize Christ – the “Bread of Life”.
The father begins the Christmas meal by leading the family in the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings of the past year and for the good things to come in the new year. The head of the family greets those present with “Christ is Born!” – the traditional Russian Christmas greeting – and the family responds with “Glorify Him!” The Lenten bread (Pagach) is then broken and shared. The bread is dipped first in honey to symbolize the sweetness of life and then in chopped garlic to symbolize life’s bitterness. The “Holy Supper” is then eaten. Traditionally, it consists of 12 different foods, symbolic of the 12 Apostles. After dinner the family goes to church for the Christmas Mass which lasts until after midnight.
Both New Year and Orthodox Russian Christmas involve feasting and presents exchanges between friends and family members. New Years is generally a bit grander holiday celebration with more focus on drinking and large gatherings. For this reason, food and spirits make great gifts for the holiday season—favorites include chocolates, cakes, cookies, roasted nuts, fruit, wine, cheese, caviar, Champagne, spirits, and a variety of other gourmet treats. For many people, the holidays are a time to indulge in rich or expensive foods and drinks that they normally do not consume.
With all this in mind, sending a gift basket to Russia or sending flowers to Russia is a great way to celebrate the holidays, even when you cannot be with your loved ones. Many business owners also take advantage of corporate gift baskets for the business associates during the holiday season.
RussianFlora.com is a great resource for gift and flower delivery to Russia. Their 2008 Christmas/New Years catalog is filled with gift ideas that are ideal for friends, family or clients. If you want to send food, they have the VIP Tray, which includes a variety of imported cheeses, fruits, roasted nuts, and tons of other gourmet goodies. To celebrate the festive New Year, they have their Holiday Champagne and Chocolates Tray, which includes two bottles of bubbly and three boxes of assorted chocolates. Or if you’d rather send a Christmas-themed gift, try their charming Mini Christmas Tree potted plant, or the Santa Gift Bag, which is a stocking stuffed with tons of goodies for children.
The online gift and flower delivery company is offering a special promotion just for the holiday season: order before December 14th and receive 10% off of any order over $99 USD. Whether you are looking for that perfect Christmas gift or a New Years delivery, planning your holiday gift-giving to Russia should be a snap this year!
About Russian Flora:
Russian Flora specializes in high-quality, affordable gift and flower delivery to Russia , CIS and Eastern Europe. The company works directly with established, local Russian florists to offer deliveries within 24-48 hours of submitted orders. After the founder and owner David Skol experienced firsthand that many of the existing delivery services to Russia provided either low-quality or over-priced flowers and gifts, he decided to provide a U.S.-based service that would provide the type of service he believed was lacking. Learn more at www.RussianFlora.com.