Twelve days of Christmas
Russian Christmas traditions: Twelve days of Christmas
Twelve days after the celebration of Christmas until Epiphany are called Christmastide, that is, holy days, as these twelve holy days are sanctified by the great events of the Nativity of Christ. During this period people go on visits to their relatives, elderly and sick giving presents. All lents are finished and food is abundant and varied.
Christmastide began with Kolyada. Youth dressed up in costumes and walked around the entire village with Christmastide songs. Kolyada and Ovsen, the mythological characters of the songs, were supposed to provide rich crop for farmers and family happiness.
Christmastide was noisy and cheerful holiday: people started bonfires, gathered to play games. It was customary for girls to tell fortunes.
According to the legend, evil powers wonder on earth for eight days after the birth of Jesus Christ and scares the passers-by. People used to dress up as devilry wearing horned and bearded masks to frighten and amuse everyone they met.