Christmas in Estonia: Christmas under Soviet Rule
The Russian-led U.S.S.R. (United Soviet Socialist Republics) occupied and ruled Estonia from 1940 to 1991. The Soviet government forbade religious holidays and tried to persuade the Estonian people to transfer their Christmas festivities to New Year’s Day, a secular holiday. Although most people had to go to work on Christmas Day, many continued to attend Christmas Eve religious services. As a means of protesting the government’s political ideology and its repressive stance towards religion, people also began to observe the day by visiting their relatives’ graves and leaving lit candles there after the Christmas Eve service.