January 7th is the Orthodox Christmas for families in Russia and Ukraine. Many families will celebrate this holiday through fasting on Christmas Eve until after the evening worship service or until the first star appears. After attending mass, traditional Orthodox families will participate in a large meal. During this “Holy Supper” families will not eat meat but other dishes with symbolic ingredients; grains representing hope, and honey and poppy seed for happiness and peace. Families will honor religious customs even through their decorations at the dinner. A white table-cloth will represent Christ’s swaddling clothes, hay is used among the decorations as a reminder of the humble way Jesus was born. Tall white candles are used on the table to symbolize Christ as being the Light of the World. Other traditions include “Ded Moroz”, also known as “Grandfather Frost”, who resembles the western Santa Clause.
During January 1st through January 10th, most offices in Russia will be closed as officials will observe this holiday with their families.