Whilst Christmas is essentially a Christian celebration, marked in most of the world on 25 December, in the Caucasus region it has become a festivity celebrated across religious divides, and lasting a rather long time. Christians in the Caucasus, mainly in Armenia and Georgia, follow the Orthodox traditon and celebrate Christmas around 6 January. But increased contacts with westerners in the last three decades has brought in an increasing trend to start celebrations around the 25 December.
However everyone celebrates new year. During the communist period this was the official festive holiday, and rather an important one. Communisim is long gone, but the tradition lingers, and in Azerbaijan, as well as in the North Caucasus new year celebrations are becoming more elaborate year after year. For those who cannot have enough of it, there is an excuse to continue celebrating until 14 January - which according to the Eastern Orthodox calander that used to be followed in the times of Tsars, is the new year.
For many therefore, regardless of faith or ideology this is the time to party. And no one has more fun than children, as this picture of Chechen children on new year's eve in Grozny shows.
photo: Chechen children in festive mood on New year's eve in Grozny (picture courtesy of TASS news agency)
The elections for the Council of Elders will be the first test of Pashinyan's popularity with voters since the events of last spring which brought him to power amid street protests.