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Celebrate New Year on the Golden Ring



Trip to the Golden Ring in Winter and What to Buy as Souvenirs 


 Visitors from North America and Western Europe might be surprised to discover that Russia celebrates Christmas on January 7th.

That’s because the Russian Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar.

After the end of the Soviet Union, some Russians have begun celebrating Christmas on December 25 in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. But many Russians still observe the tradition of fasting on January 6th, breaking the fast with a large feast on Christmas Eve after the first star has appeared in the sky. 



During the Soviet era, Christmas and religious traditions were not as popular as they are today.

Santa Claus was replaced by Ded Moroz, or, Grandfather Frost, an old man with a long white beard who would bring gifts to children on New Year’s instead of Christmas.


New Year celebrations in Russia: Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz) and Snow Maiden (Snegurochka) countdown to New Year


According to Russian tradition, Ded Moroz is accompanied by his granddaughter, Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden, who helps him on his journey to give presents to children.


Today during the Christmas season visitors to Russia can purchase Christmas ornaments in the shape of matryoshka dolls, or religious icons that depict nativity scenes.


Heading around the Golden Ring this holiday season, northeast of Moscow, your first stop will most likely be the city of Vladimir, home to a cluster of Russia’s most striking churches and cathedrals, some of the oldest in Russia.

Besides its fascinating history and architecture, the Vladimir region is also known for its fine crystal. Stop by the Crystal, Lacquer Miniatures, and Embroidery Museum for an overview of traditional crafts before visiting the gift shop in the museum to browse the crystal selection. Vladimir Chic also sells local glass and crystal work.

Typical souvenirs are also for sale in Vladimir’s old town, especially by the Golden Gate, a triumphal arch and defensive tower that is one of the last-remaining parts of the wall that once surrounded ancient Vladimir and a must-see stop on any tour of the Golden Ring.

Just 63 kilometers from Vladimir lays the nearby town of Gus-Khrustalny, the ‘Crystal Goose,’ also home to a rich glass and crystal making tradition.


Visit the glass-making factory in Gus-Khrustalny and buy gifts ranging from plates and vases to Town of Sergiev Posad is home to famous Trinity monastery of St. Sergius, 70 km north east of Moscowdecanters, or visit the outlet store back in Moscow just east of the Kremlin.



North of Vladimir, the Golden Ring comes with a diamond, and that is Suzdal.


If you have only one place to visit near Moscow, come here.


Suzdal served as a royal capital  when Moscow was a mere cluster of cowsheds.


Today Suzdal remains largely the same as ages ago - its cute wooden cottage mingling with golden cupolas that reflect in the river, which meanders lazily through gentle hills and flower-filled meadows.   



If looking for a genuinely Russian iconic classic pictures, then visit the Intercession Convent, Savior Monastery of St. Euthymius and 12th-century-old Suzdal Kremlin. The latter being the grandfather of the one in Moscow.   

Suzdal also boasts a number of small bazaars and stands outside the main tourist sites where visitors can purchase local honey mead that locals call medovukha, along with traditional crafts, like a pair of valenki, Russian woolen boots, which make an ideal Christmas gift for friends and family back home, especially in such cold countries like Canada.



A pair of Valenki, typical Russianwoolen boots, make a perfect gift for friends and family back home in Canada


The shopping stands outside Suzdal’s Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life are also highly recommended.


The Market Square houses a number of shops where visitors can search for arts and crafts.

Following the Golden Ring north of Suzdal, many tours will stop in the town of Kostroma, a former trading outpost on the immense Volga River.


One of the city’s highlights is the Museum of Linen and Birchbark, where visitors can view exhibits on traditional Russian crafts woven from flax and bark. A gift shop here sells tablecloths, napkins, baskets, linen dolls, and traditional clothing typical of the region.


South from Kostroma, stop in the town of Rostov-Veliky for enamel jewelry, a craft which allows artists to produce small paintings on metal that are then fired to produce a thin glaze over the image. Rostov became famous for its tradition of enamel work.


Today, visitors can purchase rings, earrings, bracelets, brooches, and jewelry boxes in the gift shop of the Rostov Enamel factory.


While in Rostov, visit the House of Crafts for local pottery and the Souvenirs shop for ushanka hats - Russian fur caps with ear flaps - paintings, and samovars for tea lovers. 

The last two stops on a tour of the Golden Ring are the towns of Pereslavl-Zalesskiy and Sergiev Posad.

Pereslavl is most famous for its embroidery work, available at the Art Salon along with souvenirs made of wood and stone. 




Tretyakov Art Gallery: Icon Trinity, by Andrei Rublev


Sergiev Posad is the spiritual Centre of Russia, its major pilgrimage site and the residence of the Russian Orthodox church Academy.


The Academy is located within the walls of the functioning Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius.

Sergiev Posad is also known as the birthplace of Russia's Matryoshka, a cute nesting doll with less than a hundred years of history.



This is where matryoshka dolls, a recognized symbol of Russia, were first invented. And Sergiev Posad was the chief production center of the dolls before Soviet times.

Visit The Toy Museum and get a better sense of the birthplace of one of Russia’s most recognizable toys.



Also visit the market alongside the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius—one of the city’s most important sites—to load up on matryoshka dolls, painted eggs, and icons before going home.



If you are in the Golden Ring during New Years, the city of Vladimir hosts an impressive Christmas fair, with an ice skating rink and performances by local artists, in the main square.

In most other Golden Ring cities you’ll find similar events in the center square as Christmas nears.

Most shops and markets in the Golden Ring are open year round. If you’re coming to Russia for a short period of time, whether in winter or summer, consider a trip to this stunning part of the country, and bring an extra bag if you plan to go shopping for Christmas gifts.


Good luck with shopping! 

Regardless of whether you complete your shopping list, we know you will come back with unforgettable memories.