Make your exploration of Russia more exciting by adding in some of these lovely craft ideas with a Russian theme. We've got five different ideas for making your own Matryoshka dolls (also known as Russian dolls), a Dymkovo toy, Russian cityscapes, a lacquerware spoon, and of course a Faberge egg or two! You might also want to tie in some ballet crafts.
Dymkovo toys, also known as Vyatka toys or Kirov toys, are a traditional Russian folk art handicraft made by woman. They are moulded and painted clay figures of people and animals. Try your hand at making your own!
Envelope Matryoshka Dolls
Sarah has come up with this very clever idea for a Matryoshka doll craft! Creating the dolls involves lots of cutting and sticking and drawing on of faces. Once done, "stack" the envelopes inside each other to store your pretty dolls safely.
Faberge Egg Collage
Decorate your own beautiful, bejewelled Faberge egg! This craft can be adapted to suit a range of ages. Younger children can just "pile" it all on. Older kids might like to sketch out a careful design.
Faberge Eggs Craft
Make your own gilded and jewelled treasures with your kids with our Faberge eggs craft! Start by doing a Google Image search for "Faberge eggs" and then let your imaginations run riot...
Felt Matryoshka Dolls
This felt Matryoshka doll activity can be adapted for a range of ages, and the resulting dolls are sure to be treasured! We've used simple sewing skills to complete our dolls but you can substitute fabric glue for at least some of the sewing if you wish.
Folding Matryoshka Dolls
This folding Matryoshka doll activity is a super craft for little kids, linked to our Russia topic but fun to make any time.
You will need:
Lacquerware Spoon Craft
Lacquerware painting has been traditional in Russia for centuries. Papier mache boxes and panels were lacquered and painted with intricate designs and scenes from folk tales.
Paper Cup Matryoshka Dolls
All you need for this lovely Matryoshka doll craft is paper cups, glue stick, pens and patterned paper. It's therefore not too messy and can be enjoyed by a big group of children if you wish. And of course when you are done, you can stack your dolls!
Printable Russian Dolls
Make your own Russian dolls, also known as matryoshka or babushka dolls, with this printable children's craft. We have a pre-coloured version or a set that the kids can colour in themselves.
Russia Flag Fuse Bead Pattern
Here's a Russia Flag Fuse Bead Pattern, a fun way to help children learn about Russia and it's flag using hama, perler or own brand fuse beads.
Russian Cityscape Collage
Here's a lovely craft for younger children, which uses the shapes of St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow as its inspiration. Lots of cutting and sticking involved!
Russian Cityscape Silhouette
This beautiful silhouette picture will look stunning on display at any time - but of course it is particularly appropriate for a study of Russia. The silhouette draws its inspiration from the outlines of St Basil's Cathedral, in Moscow.
Thirteen days after Western Christmas, on January 7th, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates its Christmas, in accordance with the old Julian calendar. It's a day of both solemn ritual and joyous celebration
After the 1917 Revolution, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations. It wasn't until 75 years later, in 1992, that the holiday was openly observed. Today, it's once again celebrated in grand fashion, with the faithful participating in an all-night Mass in incense-filled Cathedrals amidst the company of the painted icons of Saints.
Christmas is one of the most joyous traditions for the celebration of Eve comes from the Russian tradition. On the Eve of Christmas, it is traditional for all family members to gather to share a special meal. The various foods and customs surrounding this meal differed in Holy Russia from village to village and from family to family, but certain aspects remained the same.
An old Russian tradition, whose roots are in the Orthodox faith, is the Christmas Eve fast and meal. The fast, typically, lasts until after the evening worship service or until the first star appears. The dinner that follows is very much a celebration, although, meat is not permitted. Kutya (kutia), a type of porridge, is the primary dish. It is very symbolic with its ingredients being various grains for hope and honey and poppy seed for happiness and peace.
Once the first star has appeared in the sky, the festivities begin. Although all of the food served is strictly Lenten, it is served in an unusually festive and anticipatory manner and style. The Russians call this meal: "The Holy Supper." The family gathers around the table to honor the coming Christ Child. A white table-cloth, symbolic of Christ's swaddling clothes, covers the Table. Hay is brought forth as a reminder of the poverty of the Cave where Jesus was born. A tall white candle is place in the center of the Table, symbolic of Christ "the Light of the World." A large round loaf of Lenten bread, "pagach," symbolic of Christ the Bread of Life, is placed next to the Candle.
The meal begins with the Lord's Prayer, led by the father of the family. A prayer of thanksgiving for all the blessings of the past year is said and then prayers for the good things in the coming year are offered. The head of the family greets those present with the traditional Christmas greeting: "Christ is Born!" The family members respond: "Glorify Him!" The Mother of the family blesses each person present with honey in the form of a cross on each forehead, saying: "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, may you have sweetness and many good things in life and in the new year." Following this, everyone partakes of the bread, dipping it first in honey and then in chopped garlic. Honey is symbolic of the sweetness of life, and garlic of the bitterness. The "Holy Supper" is then eaten (see below for details). After dinner, no dishes are washed and the Christmas presents are opened. Then the family goes to Church, coming home between 2 and 3 am. On the Feast of the Nativity, neighbors and family members visit each other, going from house to house , eating, drinking and singing Christmas Carols all the day long.
The "Holy Supper"
Christmas Eve dinner is meatless but festive. The most important ingredient is a special porridge called kutya. It is made of wheatberries or other grains which symbolize hope and immortality, and honey and poppy seeds which ensure happiness, success, and untroubled rest. A ceremony involving the blessing of the home is frequently observed. The kutya is eaten from a common dish to symbolize unity. Some families used to throw a spoonful of kutya up to the ceiling. According to tradition, if the kutya stuck, there would be a plentiful honey harvest.
Traditionally, the "Holy Supper" consists of 12 different foods, symbolic of the 12 Apostles. Although there was also some variation in the foods from place to place and village to village, the following is a good summary of what was typically served. The twelve foods are:
1) Mushroom soup with zaprashka; this is often replaced with Sauerkraut soup
2) Lenten bread ("pagach")
3) Grated garlic
4) Bowl of honey
5) Baked cod
6) Fresh Apricots, Oranges, Figs and Dates
8) Kidney beans (slow cooked all day) seasoned with shredded potatoes, lots of garlic, salt and pepper to taste
10) Parsley Potatoes (boiled new potatoes with chopped parsley and margarine)
11) Bobal'ki (small biscuits combined with sauerkraut or poppyseed with honey)
12) Red Wine
It was once common practice, on Christmas Eve, for groups of people masquerading as manger animals to travel from house to house, having themselves a rousing good time, and singing songs known as kolyadki . Some kolyadki were pastoral carols to the baby Jesus, while others were homages to the ancient solar goddess Kolyada, who brings the lengthening days of sunlight through the winter. In return for their songs, the singers were offered food and coins, which they gladly accepted, moving on to the next home.
Ded Moroz and yolka
The origin of Santa Claus is in St. Nicholas. He was born in Asia Minor at at the Greco-Roman city of of Myra in the province of Lycia, at a time when the region was entirely Greek in origin. Due to the suppression of religion during the Soviet regime, St. Nicholas was replaced by Ded Moroz or Grandfather Frost, the Russian Spirit of Winter who brought gifts on New Year's. He is accompanied by Snyegurochka, the Snowmaiden, who helps distribute the gifts.
The Christmas tree (Yolka) is yet another tradition banned during the Soviet era.To keep the custom alive, people decorated New Year's trees, instead. Since ornaments were either very costly or unavailable, family trees were trimmed with homemade decorations and fruit. Yolka comes from the word which refers to a fir tree. The custom of decorating Christmas trees was introduced to Russia by Peter the Great, after he visited Europe during the 1700's.
Why January 7?
In ancient times, many, mostly unreliable methods had been used to calculate the dates according to either the lunar or solar cycles. By Roman times, the calendar had become three months out with the seasons, so in 46 BC, Julius Caesar commissioned the astronomer, Sosigenes to devise a more reliable method. This, we know as the Julian Calendar and was used widely for 1500 years. The month of his birth, Caesar had named Quintilis, but the Roman Senate later re-named it Julius (July) in his honour. In those days, February had 30 days every 4 years.
However, this calendar was still 11 minutes and 14 seconds longer than the solar year, so that by the year 1580, the calendar had accumulated 10 days off again. In 1582, therefore, Pope Gregory XIII corrected the difference between the sun and calendar by ordering 10 days dropped from October, the month with the least Roman Catholic Feast days. His calendar, we know as the Gregorian Calendar, which is used in almost all of the world today. Pope Gregory made further changes to keep the calendar in line, which on average is only 26.3 seconds longer than the solar year. The Gregorian Calendar is so accurate that it will take until the year 4316 to gain a whole day on the sun.
That year, 1582, October 5th became October 15th and was immediately adopted in most Roman Catholic nations of Europe. Various German states kept the Julian Calendar until 1700. Britain and the American Colonies didn't change until 1752, but Russia and Turkey did not adopt the Gregorian Calendar until the early 1900's.
So, January 7th by the Georgian Calendar would have been December 25th by the old Julian Calendar and is therefore why it is still Christmas Day for the Russian Orthodox Church. Many Russians will have celebrated along with the rest of us and will then celebrate again on the Orthodox date.
New Year Eve instead of Christmas
Few people in Russia remember, but when the communists took power in 1917 they banned the open expression of religion. While it was easy to pray at home, the Russian people were concerned about giving up their traditional Christmas celebration.
But where there is a will, there is a way!
They re-invented the New Year's holiday tradition to include a decorated tree, and introduced a character called "Grandfather Frost." Known as "Ded Moroz," Grandfather Frost looked very much like the western "Santa Claus" or "Pere Noel" - except he wore a blue suit.
Actually, Ded Moroz was a character that existed in the pagan culture, centuries earlier. For a time, Christmas was all but forgotten. In fact, it was generally celebrated only in small villages, where the citizenry was far from the prying eyes of the Party.
Today, Christmas is celebrated again, on January 7. But, to date, New Year's remains the bigger event.
Special thanks to Bill Scott who kindly helped me with this article
By Michael Terletski
We offer amazing gifts and ornaments to help celebrate Russian Christmas. A truly wonderful time of the year. Our products depict the rich history of this holiday depicting Grandfather Frost and other key figures. Celebrate Russian Christmas right this year with Russian American Company.
Russian Christmas Folk Traditions
Russian Santa: Grandfather Frost is the Russian Santa Claus. He brings gifts to the children at New Year's, which is the most popular Russian holiday celebration. His grand-daughter, the "Snowmaiden," accompanies him to help distribute the gifts. All of our Russian Santas ares hand-carved and hand-painted in one of the traditional wood carving villages of old Russia. Linden wood is the most commonly used wood for these wonderful Russian Santas.
New Years Eve - December 31st - is the big day for the celebration of Russian Christmas in post-revolutionary, Russia. On New Years Eve Grandfather Frost (Russia's version of Santa Claus) arrives with his granddaughter the Snowmaiden. They bring bags of candy for the children and Grandfather Frost listens to the girls and boys sing songs and recite poems. After this, he gives small Christmas gifts to the children.
Russians decorate their homes with a Christmas tree and often put pine leaves on their front doors, and in the house. The Russian Christmas tree is usually taken down at the end of January after the feast day of the Baptism of Christ.
"C novom godom!" (snow-vum gode-um)- meaning "with the New Year" - is a common New Years Eve - Christmas holiday greeting.
Russian Christmas Religious Traditions
Russian Orthodox Christmas takes place on January 7th (following the Old Calendar this is the 25th of December) and the celebration lasts for six days.
In the Orthodox tradition nothing is eaten or drunk on Christmas Eve until the first star appears in the sky. The star is symbolic of the great star that led the Magi to the newly born Christ. Once the first star has appeared in the sky, the festivities begin with a Lenten meal - meaning meat or dairy products (including chocolates) are excluded. This Christmas Eve meal is "The Holy Supper" .
The family gathers around the table to honor the coming Christ Child. A white tablecloth is used to symbolize Christ's swaddling clothes and hay is displayed as a reminder of the poverty of the place where Jesus was born. A tall white candle is placed in the center of the Table, to symbolize Christ - the "Light of the World." A large round loaf of "pagach", a special Lenten bread, is placed beside the candle to symbolize Christ - the "Bread of Life".
The father begins the Christmas meal by leading the family in the Lord's Prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings of the past year and for the good things to come in the new year. The head of the family greets those present with "Christ is Born!" - the traditional Russian Christmas greeting - and the family responds with "Glorify Him!" The Mother then draws a cross with honey on each person's forehead, saying a blessing - "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, may you have sweetness and many good things in life and in the new year." The Lenten bread (Pagach) is then broken and shared. The bread is dipped first in honey to symbolize the sweetness of life and then in chopped garlic to symbolize life's bitterness. The "Holy Supper" is then eaten. After dinner, no dishes are washed and the Christmas presents are opened. The family goes to church for the Christmas Mass which lasts until after midnight.
Traditionally, the "Holy Supper" consists of 12 different foods, symbolic of the 12 Apostles. Although there was also some variation in the foods from place to place and village to village, the following is a good summary of what is typically served.
1) Mushroom soup with zaprashka (or Sauerkraut soup)
2) Lenten bread ("pagach")
3) Chopped garlic
5) Baked fish
6) Fresh Oranges, Figs and Dates
8) Kidney beans (cooked slowly all day) seasoned with shredded potatoes, lots of garlic, salt and pepper to taste
10) Parsley Potatoes (boiled new potatoes with chopped parsley and margarine)
11) Bobal'ki (small biscuits combined with sauerkraut or poppy seed with honey)
12) Red Wine
On Christmas morning the family returns to church for the Christmas day Liturgy. After church the family gathers together to exchange gifts and share a special Christmas meal. Children go from door to door caroling the song "Thy Nativity".
"C Rodzhestvom Kristovom"(srod-zshest-vum krist-o-vum) is a common Russian Christmas greeting, meaning "with the Birth of Christ!"
Recipes for Russian Christmas
Russian Christmas Coffee Cake - a Christmas Morning Treat
1 cup sugar
Filling and Topping
1/2 lb. butter (or margarine)
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
4 tablespoons cinnamon
3 unbeaten eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Cream together sugar and margarine. Mix in the sour cream. Add the unbeaten eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Combine the flour mixture gradually into the butter/egg mixture. The dough will become stiff. Spoon half the dough into a well-greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Mix together the topping ingredients: sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Sprinkle 3/4 of the topping/filling over the first half of the dough. Add the remaining dough and sprinkle rest of topping. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool 1 hour before removing from the pan.
Russian Christmas Tea Cakes
1 cup margarine softened
2 cup flour
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup pecans, or walnuts chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream the margarine, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Mix in the flour and pecans. Chill for 2 hours. Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll into 1-inch balls. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 375-degree oven until very lightly brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Roll in confectioners' sugar before serving. Store in an airtight container. Makes 3 dozen.
Russian Spice Tea - Christmas Holiday favorite
2 quarts weak tea
2 tbsp. whole cloves
1 pt. pineapple juice
2 c. sugar
Preparation: Squeeze juice from the lemons and oranges. Pour some boiling water over the cloves and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain the juice and cloves. Add sugar and mix well. Add the tea and heat to boiling. Serve hot.
Instant Version - "Russian" Spice Tea:
1/2 cup instant Nestea tea - unsweetened
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups orange-flavored TANG
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup instant Nestea Iced Tea Mix - Lemon flavored sweetened
1 tsp ground cloves
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in large container and mix well. To serve, use 2 to 3 teaspoons of mix per cup and add hot/boiling water
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Christmas crafts russia
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At first he did not react in any way, but after several frictions he began to swell gradually.5 DIY CHRISTMAS RECYCLED DECORATIONS! Amazing DIY crafts for Christmas!
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