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What are some common Russian traditions?

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Common Russian traditions include bathing in ice water at Epiphany, celebrating the Russian New Year on Jan. 14 and celebrating Christmas in January. Other common traditions include the festival of Maslenitsa and a Winter Festival held between December and January.

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The Russian New Year date is based on an older tradition, and festivities centered around the holiday include the lighting of a New Year's tree and a visit from Ded Moroz, also known as the Russian Santa Claus. Sviatki is also known as Russian Christmastide and occurs from Jan. 7 through Jan. 19. Celebrations include old traditions, such as fortune telling and carolling. The religious tradition of bathing in icy water at the height of Sviatki, also known as Epiphany, is believed to be magical.

Maslenitsa is the celebration of spring before Lent that includes special games for children. Mothers and grandmothers traditionally cook stacks of pancakes and the cities burn an effigy of Maslenitsa as a sign that winter is melting into spring. On Victory day, Russians commemorate the service of those who fought in World War I by throwing a huge military parade in Red Square. The Winter Festival is celebrated to help break up the hard Russian winter. The festival includes traditional Russian cuisine, troika rides and large ice sculptures, including giant ruble coins and a valenki felt boot.

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