CHRISTMAS IN WESTERN COUNTRIES
Christmas is the most important and favorite holiday of the year in all Western world. Catholic Christmas traditions differ from those in Eastern church and the differences start with the date of observance. Catholic Christmas is celebrated on December, 25 according to Gregorian calendar while Orthodox church uses Julian calendar and observes Christmas 13 days later on January, 7.
The Christmas countdown in Western countries begins 4 weeks earlier on Advent . Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for Christmas. Churches and families keep a special advent wreath, a circular garland of evergreen branches with five candles. One candle, representing an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ, is lit each Sunday before Christmas as a part of the Advent services.
On Christmas Eve all faithful people go to church to attend a midnight mass. Children usually stay at home and go to bed early to dream of their Christmas gifts. Before going to bed, they put their shoes or stockings by the fireplace to find it filled with sweets and gifts from Santa Claus the next morning.
Christmas is a family holiday and is usually celebrated at home with the nearest and dearest. The festive Christmas dinner featuring traditional menu is the highlight of the celebration. It is followed by the exchange of Christmas gifts between friends and family members.
Orthodox Christmas is observed in such countries as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Macedonia, Montenegro, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Serbia.
Christmas in Russia and other countries is most widely celebrated on January 7, according to the Julian calendar. New Year’s Day, on January 1st, precedes the Russian Christmas and is often observed as a more important holiday. However, now with the western traditions becoming more and more popular, some Russians celebrate two Christmases and even two New Year’s – the first Christmas observed on December 25th, and the second New Year’s called Old New Year observed on January 13th.
For people in Russia Christmas Day is the time for family reunions, Christmas service and a festive meal. There is a 40-day Lent preceding Christmas Day, which lasts until after the evening worship service or until the first star appears in the sky. The holiday dinner that follows called “The Holy Supper” (the last meal of the fast) is strictly Lenten and meatless but it is served in a festive manner. It begins with the Lord’s Prayer of thanksgiving for all the blessings of the past year, led by the father of the family. After the dinner families open Christmas gifts and go to the church to attend Christmas liturgy.
CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS
Christmas is the perfect occasion to show your dear ones, relatives, friends and business associates how much you care for them. Sending Christmas gifts to Russia and other countries is not only a generous gesture but also a great way to maintain and improve relationships with those who are far away.
For personal gifts for Christmas feel free to choose the favorite items on the list of your recipients. Presenting delicious and beautifully decorated edible gifts like gourmet gift baskets or sweet gifts is always a good idea for a Christmas gift to a family. For a romantic touch, add fresh flowers, teddy bear, bottle of champagne, cake, their favorite perfume or a piece of jewelry.
When shopping for business Christmas gifts choose something stylish, tasteful and not too expensive. Gourmet and fruit gift baskets and wine hampers make a wonderful office gift that will satisfy any palate. If you’re sending a gift for one or two recipients a Christmas flowers arrangement accompanied by a box of chocolate or good wine will be also a great choice.
Visit online gift catalog at www.russianflora.com to find a perfect Christmas gift for your family, friends, loved ones or colleagues!