Whenever I tell someone that I don't celebrate Christmas, they right away look at me like I'm from another planet. "What do you mean, you don't celebrate Christmas? How come?" Let me explain why Russians don't celebrate Christmas at the same time as Canadians do.
You may or may not know that most of Russians are Christian Orthodox. Our church still follows the old Julian calendar, unlike most of other countries in the world, who follow Gregorian calendar. As a result, we're 13 days behind other countries when it comes to celebrating Christmas.
Why haven't we switched to Gregorian calendar? I'll explain. Here goes a little bit of #historyporn. You're probably familiar with the fact that, back in the days, the state and the church were known to be in opposition. In 1917, when Bolsheviks (the government) wanted to impose the new Gregorian calendar, Russian Orthodox Church decided not to listen to government authorities and stick to the old calendar as a sign of rebellion. At the same time, this helped keep the tradition of generations of Russians celebrating Christmas on January 7th alive.
Today, some Russian Canadian families celebrate Christmas Eve on December 24th, others on January 7th. There are also families who celebrate both! Why not? However, gifts are generally not exchanged on Christmas. We still love our office Christmas parties, though! Confusing, I know.
The real celebration for any Russian person is on the New Year's Eve. That's when both the most important dinner party of the year and the gift exchange take place.