The national calendar of the russian people is a mixture of christian and pagan origins by means of the popular orthodoxie.
Winter Svyatki is a period of time assigned to the winter solstice that was starting the national solar year. The orthodox Christians name Svyatki twelve festive days between Christmas and Epiphany (19 of January)
Notwithstanding the Svyatki is a christian holiday, some of pagan traditions inherited from the old times were admixed to it. Before the adoption of Christianity in the ancient Russia the Svyatki was a holiday of Svyatoivit (one of the name of the sky god Belbog). According to the other source this word comes from the old Slavonic “Svyatki” – soul of ancestors.
The favorite popular entertainment is to dress up and go round carol-singing (kolyadovat’).
Kolyada (ancient pagan god) was a holiday of the ancient Slavs before Christianity adoption during the solstice symbolizing the start of the new life, nature renewal. The church couldn’t’t eradicate these traditions.
At Kolyada night the people was making fire, dancing around, rolling downhill the burning wheel. The children were going with handmade star around the villages, knocking to the door, sending greetings, singing the songs “kolyadki” and receiving presents. The star was symbolizing a resurgent sun turning to spring.
Kolyadki are festive popular songs, they don’t have authors, they are just simple, kind, sincere with wonderful sens.
The games of mummers is an ancient Russian skomorokh fun being conserved from the pagan times. Persecuted by church and authority, the tradition survived and became an integral part of the popular holidays.
The mummers were entering the houses, amusing the patrons making sometimes the whole performances. The mummery is also a symbol of nature renewal.
Svyatki fortune telling
The main rite on Svyatki was the fortune-telling. Usually these are girls who like tell fortunes hoping to know when they will get married, who will be their fiancé.. They were staying alone, putting off all the amulets, letting their hair down and starting the sorcery. There were so many ways to know the future : on wax, apples, cards, looking in the mirror.