A conservative Russian Christmas

Christmas is a holiday celebrated by many, but with the great concentration on the worldwide holiday, many do not realize that there is more than one Christmas that people celebrate around the globe. Veronika Oleynik, a 22-year-old linguistics major at Santa Monica College from Russia, celebrates Orthodox Christmas with her family on Jan. 7, enjoying traditional eastern European dishes.

Some Christians party their way through Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa Claus to visit their house on the morning of their savior's birth, but the Russian Orthodox celebrate their holiday in a more reserved manner.

Christmas for us is more of a sacred celebration in Russia," says Oleynik. "It’s too holy to throw a big party like people do in U.S. Many people in Russia think that making an excuse to eat and spend money on decorations is not very religious.”

Her family cooks various traditional dishes from eastern Europe, from sweet dumplings called “Vareniki” with goat cheese and cherry filling, to traditional layered herring salad "Seledka Pod Shuboi," meaning "herring under a fur coat."

The latter dish is very special to Oleynik. For her, it is not only delicious, but also sentimental.

“This dish has a specific meaning to me," says Oleynik. "My mom and granny always cook it, and whenever I see it on the table, it makes me feel at home."

If you feel like having one of these traditional layered salads this Christmas, just follow the recipe and the cooking directions bellow.



A whole salted herring (You can buy pre-salted herring at Russian/International stores or salt it yourself)

1 large potato

3-4 medium-sized carrots

3 medium-sized beets

Green or white onions


1) Boil carrots, potato and beets. Let them cool down to the room temperature, and skin them.

2) Grate potato (with a large-slotted grater) and form a layer for it on the bottom of the plate.

3) Dress layer of grated potato with mayonnaise.

4) Dice herring, and layer it on top of the potato with mayonnaise.

5) Cover it all with onion layer, and dress with mayonnaise again.

6) Cover it all with a layer of boiled, grated carrots.

7) Cover with mayonnaise on top again.

8) Put a layer of boiled grated beets and one more layer of mayonnaise on top.

9) Let the salad rest at room temperature for about 2 hours; then refrigerate.

This salad takes time to "rest," so it needs to be prepared one night in advance.

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