The Twelve Days of Christmas (Svyatki – Свя́тки) begin after Christmas and last until January 19, Epiphany Day. This period of Christmas festivities includes a few pagan traditions.
Image: Денисова Дарья. Рождественские колядки
One of them is visiting homes and singing carols– ‘kalyadovaniye’. People in Christmas costumes and animal masks took kutia (кутья́) to homes and asked the owners to try some. Sometimes, they would simply sing hymns of praise to Christ or carols (коля́дки). In response, they were given treats or money. Traditionally, there are three major kolyada rituals during the holiday season: on Christmas Eve, 13th of January, and January 18th (the night before the last day of Christmas).
The other tradition is fortune telling. This period of Christmas holidays is considered the best time to predict the future. It’s believed that the prediction done during this time is the most accurate.
Read more about fortune telling.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the attitude towards the practice of divination and fortune-telling during the 12 days of Christmas was not well received. However, later, in the 19th century, it became more tolerant.