While most of us are getting ready to return to work after the festive period, celebrations are just beginning in others. In 1923 a revised version of the Julian calendar was introduced bringing Christmas Day in line with the Gregorian calendar, but it was only adopted by some of the Orthodox Christian countries including Greece, Cyprus and Romania.

At the time of its consummation it attracted a great deal of attention from political writers, for the secrecy of the terms stimulated curiosity and the anomaly involved in a combination between the democratic French Republic and the Muscovite autocracy demanded explanation.

French writers in particular lost no time in reviewing the making of the agreement, which, they felt, had restored their nation to its rightful place in the European scene.

Both men knew what it was like to have their back against the wall with Hitler in front of them. And, as a life-long anti-Bolshevik, Churchill harbored few illusions about Soviet post-war intentions.

Each admired the courage with which the other faced the challenge. Nevertheless, unlike his relationship with Hitler, characterized by mutual loathing, Churchill's relationship with Stalin had the marks of respect.

In Russia, home to 39 per cent of the world’s Orthodox Christians, people enjoy more days off over Christmas than any other country in Europe, starting on New Year’s Day and carrying through to Orthodox Christmas day.

During the Soviet era, the celebration of Christmas was banned (along with the celebration of other religious holidays).

It can range from financial or logistic backing, like the supply of materials or weapons, to military mobilisation and a declaration of war.

Alliances may also contain economic elements, such as trade agreements, investment or loans.

The more important contemporary accounts, like those of Cyon, Hansen and Daudet, were based at least in part upon direct personal knowledge or upon confidential information.

But under the circumstances they could not be other than one- sided and incomplete.

Shares in Brack were down 2.4% at 0.830 pence on Friday.