If you need to get Russia visas over the holiday season, the time to act is now. The Russian consulate closes down for ten days between December 31 and January 9 to celebrate the Russian Orthodox Christmas and New Year’s. During that entire ten-day period, visas to Russia won’t be processed.
In Russia, the most common religion aside from atheism is Russian Orthodoxy. In the Russian Orthodox calendar, Christmas doesn’t fall on December 25 but rather on January 7. For many people in Russia, Christmas isn’t a particularly important holiday, but it is still certainly a time that people take off and spend with friends and family.
Christmas traditions in Russia aren’t quite as flashy and commercial as they are here in America, but the basics are essentially the same. The Christmas season is a time for good deeds, a time for dressing up, and a time for asking for favors from your loved ones. In Russia, Santa Claus is known as Ded Moroz, or Father Frost. He’s accompanied by the Snow Maiden (or the Snow Girl) and places presents under the tree for children.
Interestingly, though Russians put a decorated fir tree in their home during the Christmas season, they don’t think of this tree as a Christmas tree. Instead, the tree is considered a New Year’s tree. New Year’s is one of the most highly anticipated holidays in Russia every year. Many people celebrate New Year’s Day on both January 1 and January 14. The latter date corresponds to New Year’s on the Julian calendar, which was used in Russia until 1918. New Year’s Eve in Russia is a time for celebrating with family, hiding presents under the tree, setting off fireworks, and enjoying festive meals with loved ones.
We can hardly blame the Russian consulate for taking so much time off to celebrate this great season. In fact, were quite jealous. That said, we’re sure that more than a few of you will be inconvenienced by the Russian consulate’s holiday closures. Remember that if you need visas to Russia for business purposes, tourism, or if you need business invites or crew invites, you won’t be able to obtain those during the holiday break from December 31 to January 9.
If you need an expedited visa to avoid missing your travel deadlines, contact the Swift team and we’ll help ensure that your holiday travel plans go off without a hitch.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.