Like HandMaiden, I too grew up in a Ukrainian Orthodox household.
We did not celebrate on the 25th. However, just like for Pascha, we kept the day quietly and respectfully for our neighbors' sakes, who were celebrating.
For us everything focused on January 7th. When we were little, our mother enforced a strict fast the first and last week of Lent. It was simply to hard for us kids, to stick to it otherwise.
On January 6th we went to church in the evening. Lovely. The lights and candles twinkling, we, dressed in new clothes (always new clothes were worn for the Nativity). Afterwards, the parish hosted a "lenten" meal. I could never understand why it was still Lenten food, even though we were already proclaiming the Birth of Christ! Everyone sat together and ate of the 12 dishes being served - starting with Kootia (boiled wheat dish) and ending with Ozvar (fruit compote). Once everyone finished the meal and the prayer was said, then the caroling would commence. Everyone sang together. Gifts were exchanged as well.
We would then go home, and open our gifts that were waiting under the tree. There was no TV, no radio. Just the family laughing and joking in our pj's under the tree....and lots of wrapping paper everywhere!
In the morning we would again dress in new clothes (usually one of the gifts from the night before) and head off to church. Everyone was happy and joyous...the air was crisp...
After the lovely Liturgy we would all head to our priest's home and sing carols, have a snack and just enjoy each other's company. Some would then gather in bunches and drive off to other folks' houses to go caroling.
Then you would finally reach home, exhausted, and sit down to a non-Lenten meal!
The next day was always a bummer, because it was right back to school...and having missed the day before, it was all "catch up"....plus, having to explain why you were celebrating now, instead of on Dec. 25th.
Don't get me wrong...it was hard as a kid to explain it. Some years, it was just marked as a sick day, with no explanation until we were older and could speak for ourselves and our beliefs.
University was bad. It was always the first week of classes, when you would get assigned your lab equipment, etc. However, we NEVER went to school, work, etc on January 7th.
This year, I've already told everyone at work that I am off. They all know me now...and have no issues. They even rescheduled mandatory training to the following week because I would not be there.
I love it! I would never change the date! It's special!
Like folks said before...it's not commercial, it's spiritual, and personal. Love it, love it!
Sister is married now to a Catholic, so on Dec. 25th her brood of 4 kids joins him at his mom's house. The children are Orthodox, and understand the difference. They can't wait for the 7th - because they get to go to their church, the boys serve in the altar, the kids usually participate in decorating the church....it's where they belong and feel at home.