Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Muscovites Stay Sane On Dec. 25




'Twas the day before Christmas, and no one in Moscow seemed to notice. Most of the city's residents went about their business as on any other day.


While Christians around the world were preparing for one of the most religiously significant and commercially hyped days on the calendar, the mood in the vestibule of Mayakovskaya metro station Thursday was decidedly unfestive. There was no Salvation Army Santa ringing his bell. No shoppers trying frantically to find last-minute presents. No street musicians playing "Jingle Bell Rock."


"What holiday?" said one woman, who looked to be in her 60s and was definitely not in the Christmas spirit. "I'm a Russian person, and I don't know anything about what they do over there.


"And another thing: I'm a Christian and I'm going to celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7," she said as she hurried down the stairs toward the turnstile.


Other people seemed a bit more aware of the holiday.


"It's Catholic Christmas," Igor Sidirov, 55, said when asked what day Friday was. Russians typically ignore the many other denominations that celebrate the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25, calling it simply "Catholic Christmas."


While most Russians who celebrate Christmas will do so on the Orthodox holiday, Jan. 7, Sidirov said he and his friends were not planning anything special on either day. "We were always atheists," he shrugged.


But Tatyana Skorokhodova was getting ready to kick off several weeks of partying Friday.


"Tomorrow I'll get together with friends, and we'll give each other gifts, drink vodka and try to think of good things, even though that's hard," she said.


Skorokhodova, 28, said she has been celebrating "Catholic Christmas" for about seven years. She said she would continue the festivities with New Year's Eve, an important holiday to most Russians and also her birthday, and Orthodox Christmas.


But outside the station, a pensioner selling cigarettes, had a different take on the season.


"In Russia, there's no holiday," said Nikolai Ivanovich, 71, shuffling to keep warm. "Millions are hungry."