Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve celebrations have been held in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral led by Patriarch Kirill.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his wife attended the mass along with other leading political figures.
But this year the Russian religious leader gave many food for thought.
In remarks published before the ceremony, the patriarch, urged the Kremlin to be moderate in new legislation seeking stricter punishment for religious offences.
The new laws propose jail terms for offending religious feelings in the wake of a protest by punk band Pussy Riot in Moscow’s main cathedral in February.
Kirill is a firm ally of President Vladimir Putin who attended a separate service in the Black Sea city of Sochi.
The patriarch’s warning did not go as far as some critics who see the new legislation as part of a broader move to clamp down on dissent.