Religious Holidays

Religious holidays are especially important in countries with a prevailingly dominant religion. Most SRAS countries fit this description: Russia and Ukraine are 71% and 67% Orthodox, respectively; Kyrgyzstan is 83% Muslim; and Poland is an astonishing 93% Catholic. Religious holidays, therefore, are often recognized by the state and given as days off and they play a large role in defining the country’s calendar and identity. In most countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, these holidays are observed as purely religious. Santa Claus figures are largely relegated to holidays other than Christmas and the Easter Bunny is almost entirely absent. Minority holidays celebrated by smaller percentages of the population are also presented below.

Yhyakh: A Summer New Year in the Coldest Place on Earth

The original Sakha is given for some terms in parentheses. Photographs provided by Mitrofan kyyha Varvara Egorova-Dygyia, Susan Crate, and Kathryn Yegorov-Crate. Yhyakh (ыһыах) is the Sakha people’s annual summer festival during which Sakha make offerings to sky deities known as aiyy (айыы) and make merry before the laborious hay-cutting season. Yhyakh is often rendered […]

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