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After the Russian Revolution, the celebrations surrounding Christmas were changed to the Festival of Winter. Presiding over this festival is Grandfather Frost, a character that looks and acts remarkably like Father Christmas. In many areas of Russia, Grandfather Frost has usurped the role of the traditional gift bringers, Bablusch- ka and Kolyada. However, instead of arriving on Christmas Eve, Grandfather Frost arrives on New Year's Day.
One enduring Russian custom is called the five piles of grain. A sleeping hen is placed in the center of five small piles of grain representing wealth, poverty, death, marriage, and a life of hard work. Whichever pile of grain the hen goes to first when it awakens is the fate of the daughters of the family.
Instead of a Christmas tree, Russians put up a New Year tree. Among the few surviving religious traditions is the breaking of the Advent fast. When the first star appears on Christmas eve the Advent fast is over and a big feast called the Colatzia is eaten. The exchange of cards and presents in Russia takes place only on a very modest scale.
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