Russian Orthodox Church Holidays

russian orthodox church holiday

The Russian Orthodox Church observes twelve important holidays, such as Christmas, New Year, Easter and others.

Russian Orthodox Christianity differs from most of the rest of Christianity in that they use the Julian calendar for religious holidays instead of using the Gregorian one. As a result, 25 December, which corresponds to 7 January on the Gregorian calendar, is observed two weeks later than usual.


Christmas, also known as the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ, is one of Russia’s most beloved orthodox church holidays. To commemorate this special occasion, Russians typically spend quality time with their loved ones and exchange gifts.

On Christmas, a priest visits each home and sprinkles water into each room of the house, believed to bring luck and abundance.

New Year

Russian Orthodox churches celebrate New Year on January 14th as a major religious holiday. It is considered more significant than Christmas and officially recognized by the Russian government.

Orthodox Christians observe this day to commemorate Jesus Christ’s birth. It is a time of joy and the celebration includes an elaborate meal.

At Christmas time, Christmas trees, Santa Claus and presents are traditional elements of the New Year celebration. Additionally, the Snow Maiden, who is believed to accompany Grandfather Frost on his journeys, also appears in Russian legends.


In the Russian Orthodox Church, Easter is one of the most significant holidays. It commemorates Jesus Christ’s Resurrection – when He rose from the dead and conquered death itself.

It is observed on the first Sunday after the spring equinox, which in Russia falls on March 21. Although exact dates may differ each year, it always falls on a Sunday during early spring.

Commemorating Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem, Christians begin their celebrations on Palm Sunday and continue through Good Friday. Finally, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday mark the Resurrection of Christ for believers around the world.

The Feast of the Annunciation

The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the major Orthodox church holidays, commemorating when Archangel Gabriel visited Mary and told her she would bear God’s son.

Typically, this holiday is observed on March 25th; however, in some western Christian churches it may be moved to another date if it coincides with a Sunday during Holy Week or Good Friday.

The Feast of the Transfiguration

The Feast of the Transfiguration is one of the twelve major Orthodox church holidays and commemorates a crucial moment in Jesus’ life when He revealed divine revelation to three of His closest disciples.

The Gospel accounts of this event take place shortly after Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus was the Messiah, with Jesus making his first prediction about Jesus’ passion and death. According to Orthodox theology, it served as a prefigurement of both Resurrection and Second Coming.

The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ

The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ is one of the major Russian Orthodox church holidays and observed annually on February 15 according to the Gregorian calendar.

This holiday commemorates the day Mary and Joseph brought their baby into the Temple in Jerusalem, and is one of the twelve Great Feasts in Orthodox Christianity.

The Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos

The Nativity of the Theotokos is one of the most revered holidays in Russian Orthodox Christianity. This feast commemorates Jesus Christ’s conception through Mary, his mother.

Joachim and Anna had been childless for many years when God answered their prayers by blessing them with a child through Theotokos. This feast also serves to remind us of Mary’s joy at this pivotal point in her life.

The Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos

The Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, commonly referred to as “The Great Feast of Mother of God,” is one of the most beloved feasts in Eastern Orthodox Church. It commemorates Mary’s “falling asleep” (kimisis in Greek) before her bodily resurrection and ascension into heaven.

This event affirms the divine promise to believers that they will share in eternal communion with God. As such, it serves as a source of comfort and strength for every Orthodox family.

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