MOSCOW. For Orthodox Christians New Year, celebrated on January 1, is not a holiday. On this day they pay tribute in churches to the holy martyr Boniface of Tarsus, who was executed in 290 by the Romans for believing in Jesus.The Russian believers fast during the New Year holidays. They abstain from meat and fish, sweets and wine, and eat only vegetarian food, porridge without butter, and mushrooms.
The church calendar does not coincide with the secular one, and the true believers celebrate New Year on January 13. Only on January 7, the Orthodox Christmas, do the secular and religious worlds meet. This is an official state holiday.
Traditionally, the night before Christmas is considered the triumph of all the evil forces, which are panicking before the birth of the Savior. On that day people tell fortunes, make wishes, and perform magic rituals.
On Christmas Eve, Russian television broadcasts live the divine service conducted by Patriarch of all Russia Alexy II from Russia's main church, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which is usually attended by the president, prime minister, heads of the parliament chambers and other VIPs.
In Nativity Catholics emphasize the birth of Christ under the Palestinian Bethlehem Star in Palestine, which heralded the advent of the new faith. For the Russian Orthodox believers this is a more intimate holiday, the miracle of the God's birth to the Virgin. For the Russian Orthodox Church Nativity is a holiday of eternal motherhood, of the Mother and Christ, and the birth of any soul is held sacred.
Christmas is celebrated with numerous stage performances devoted to the Savior in kindergartens, Sunday schools, at different stages and ice palaces. Actors depict the images of the wise men and shepherds, Roman warriors, King Herod and the holy family: Virgin Mary, Joseph, and Christ born of the Holy Spirit.
During the New Year holiday and Christmas city residents go skating in yards and parks, and, among other delicacies, vodka is served in glasses made of ice. After drinking vodka in the frost, the glasses are hurled to the ground to shiver.
The Russians believe that shivered glassware is a happy omen.
source: RIA Novosti