During the Soviet era, the tradition of celebrating Christmas was almost lost in Russia. However, winter holidays didn’t vanish, they were transformed into the New Year’s Eve celebration. Most Christmas traditions remained intact, like the decorated tree, gifts, a heavy dinner, lights, and fireworks. Some new traditions were added. New Year still remains the most popular and widely celebrated holiday in Russia.
Winter holidays are all about good magic. Russian folklore traditions are slightly different from Western ones. Santa doesn’t come to Russian kids. It’s Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) who brings gifts and rewards good kids in Russia. Ded Moroz doesn’t have a team of helpers. His only helper is Snegurochka (Snow Maiden), his beautiful granddaughter. Usually, Ded Moroz asks boys and girls to sing him a song or to read him a poem, and only then he takes a gift out of his bag. If Ded Moroz comes when kids are sleeping, he puts gifts under the Christmas tree.
New Year is the time to make wishes. Unlike resolutions, wishes don’t oblige you to do anything. You may wish to lose 10 pounds next year, but it doesn’t mean that you’re going to revise your diet or exercise better. It’s just a wish. But since it was made during the magic time, when wishes are most powerful, it may come true somehow.
Toys and sweets – they are used everywhere and quite universal as gifts for kids. Grown-up people like gifts too, and in Russia, it is normal to bring some nice presents to friends and family members for the New Year. It can be something nice and inexpensive like a body care kit, but it also can be something more substantial like new kitchen appliances, jewelry, collectable items – whatever you think would be a suitable gift. New Year is like another birthday – a good occasion to express your love and care to your dearest.
What to Eat
Russian New Year dinner is always lavish. Fruits, particularly oranges and mandarins, roasted meat, fish, chicken, lots of salads, including the famous Russian salad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
The New Year comes at midnight along with the sound of the Kremlin chiming clocks. Everybody stands up, thinks about their wishes for the next year (usually, in silence, because saying your wish aloud would scare the good fortune off), and says a toast. Sparkling wine is a requirement of celebrating the first minutes of the New Year. In the Soviet Union and, now, in Russia, the name ‘champagne’ is a rather common word for all sparkling wines, so don’t be surprised with the brands like “Russian Champagne” or “Soviet Champagne”.
What to Watch
Russians like watching the same set of movies every New Year. The Irony Of Fate (Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром) is arguably the most famous romantic comedy along with Enchanters (Чародеи) and Gentlemen of Fortune (Джентельмены удачи). By the way, all the movies are available for free at Mosfilm’s channel on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/user/
My dear friends, thank you for your comments, corrections and suggestions! I do appreciate your help and am looking forward to talking to you in 2014! Have a wonderful, prosperous and full of new exciting discoveries New Year 2014!