Russian New Year Holiday Traditions

Noviy God (Новый Год, New Year) is the most important holiday in Russia. Basically it has some Christmas traditions: decorating a tree, exchanging presents, expecting for Santa etc.  Orthodox Christmas as a religious holiday is celebrated in Russia on January 7th (because of calendar change). Because of soviet heritage and multi-ethnic population, Russia remains mostly a secular state, where religion plays a smaller role (though some people celebrate christmas they do not attend church).

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So what is traditional Russian New Year? The main characters of those days are: Ded Moroz (Дед Мороз, Grandfather Frost or Santa Claus) and Snegurochka (Снегурочка, his granddaughter, snow maiden). They ride around on horse-drawn sleigh to put gifts under Yolka (Ёлка, Christmas fir tree) .

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This is a family holiday, which is usually celebrated at home. Statistics say, that 71% of respondents will meet New Year in a circle of relatives and friends, 22% will be visiting friends, 2% will go abroad. And only  1% of respondents (including me) will ignore the holiday hustle and bustle and same will listen to the chime all alone.

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For this, who celebrate, official part begins with a midnight TV broadcast of the President’s speech. It ends with a “countdown” till 00:00 – twelve strikes of the Kremlin chim clock tower. Everyone stands by the table, counting the strikes out loud, with glasses in their hands. With the last strike we open a bottle of champagne (sparkling wine) and scream HURAAAAAAAAH. Cheers, drinking, exchanging gifts, hugs. At this time salute begins. There are 2 interesting traditions: 1. Put a slice of tangerine in champagne glass, make a wish and eat it after drinking. 2. When the clock strikes 12 – open the window to “let new year into house”.

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After dinner all pour into the streets to throw fireworks and lit sparklers. Noise, boom and bang last the whole night long. Young people go to  clubs, cafes, party all night.  The traditional new year’s dinner is: tangerines, olivier salad (or mimosa and herring under a fur coat) and caviar sandwiches. Buffet is huge – with several salads, snacks, hot dish and even cake and dessert. Half of all this is never eaten, so they eat Christmas food all the upcoming week long. Btw. sociologists even use “Olivier Rating” to calculate inflation. This year the cost of ingredients for the salad “Olivier” grew  by 7.6% to 255 rubles.

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Winter vacations last 10 days at least (usually from December 31 th to January 9th). Many people go to their home cities for this time, some prefer rest in warm countries. So my favorite and the most enigmatic day in Moscow is morning of January 1st. Once a year Moskva is totally empty: no cars, no people around. The following days people travel to guests, relatives and drink drink drink VODKA ofco!!

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СЧАСТЛИВОГО НОВОГО ГОДА (SCHASTLIVOGO NOVOGO GODA, HAPPY NEW YEAR)

 

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