Never celebrated New Year in Russia and wonder why you'd remeber it forever? Here are some facts that will help you to get to know our traditions :)
Not many people know that Russians do not celebrate 25th of December. Surely Christmas is the most significant holiday in the world and moreover, we get inspired so much watching this amazing atmosphere you create. The thing is our Christmas takes place on January 7th. This happens because Russian Orthodox Church still observes the Julian calendar. Dec. 25 on the Julian calendar corresponds to Jan. 7 on the Gregorian calendar, which America and most of the rest of the world uses. Nevertheless, we wish Merry Christmas to all foreign friends while in the meantime prepare gifts for New Year's Eve.
New Year's Eve is Russian's favourite holiday of the year
In Russia New Year's Eve trumps Christmas in importance. We decorate fir tree specially for New Year, not for Christmas. Though, decoration and excitement starts already in the beginning of December disctracting people' mind from work.
How we decorate New Year's Tree (Novogodnaya Yolka)
Surely fir tree is not just russian symbol of New Year but it's so important for us, especially if there are kids in the family. We prefer real trees from the forest that smell fresh and wonderful. Russian trees are usually decorated in very bright colours (not just 1 colour or one style). Many years ago there was a tradition to make decorations from coloured paper, candy wrappings and coloured thread. Novogodnaya Yolka used to be topped with a bright red star in Soviet times. At present the tree can be topped with anything you like.
Everybody knows Santa. But Russians have their own Christmas charachter that is called Ded Moroz (Father Frost the Red Nose). Ded Moroz has granddaugter Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden) - very pretty girl:) All kids are waiting for Ded Moroz and Snegurochka to come home and bring presents on New year's Eve. But kid is supposed to tell some New Year poem or sing first:) Ded Moroz is dressed in a red costume and has a huge white beard, large bag with presents and a staff. Snegurochka wears light blue coat and ususally has a long braid. These charachteres are necessary guests at all New Year shows and parties. Also parents can invite Ded Moroz and Snegurochka to their child - it's a very popular service in Russia. Children love to write Ded Moroz a letter including all personal wishes that are meant to come true in New Year. The biggest disappointment of any child is to find out that all letters with wishes were never read by Ded Moroz as he doesn't exist. But usually parents read the letters and help dreams come true :)
Tangerines - symbol of winter holidays
Christmas mood in Russia starts with a smell of tangerines. They became a symbol of New year long ago in the Soviet times when tangerines were a hard-to-get thing. These fruits were served only once a year - during New Year holidays. Now they can be bought everywhere whenever you want. When December starts Russian people buy huge boxes of tangerines or manadines as we call them, spread this amazing citrus scent creating holiday atmosphere that everyone knows :)
Russian Salad Olivier
You were not celebrating New Year in Russia if you did't eat russian salad Olivier. It's the first thing people cook on December 31st. Nice thing about it - it's definitely a festive salad, which makes us miss it after a long year. Olivier salad is usually made with boiled potatoes and carrots, pickles, green peas, eggs, chicken or bologna and mayonnaise - very important ingedient. Yes, Russians love mayonnaise a lot and put it in many other salads.
Just before midnight, the Russian President addresses the nation with a short speech in which he reflects on the past year and thanks the people for their support. Right after the speech, the chiming clock on the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower is shown counting down the last few seconds of the year.
How russians welcome New Year
Russians welcome the New Year by screaming “S Novim Godom!” Champagne flows freely for the first toast to the New Year. The first toast is simple - "To the New Year, to the new happiness!" This is the happiest moment of the night and traditionally people stay home with family to meet New Year, after that they go out for a walk to watch fireworks or party.
How to make a wish
Russians believe that any wish made on New Year's Eve will certainly come true. They wait for the clock to struck 12, write their desires on paper and burn it on candle. Then this ash is mixed in glass of champagne and consumed by them. This is associated with russian famous wish making traditions.
Old New Year
After 2 weeks of New Year celebration a little wonder happens - New Year knocks on our door again, but this time as Old New Year. What an amazing tradition to have another opportunity to meet close friends again, light up the candles and share happiness. Where this strange holiday comes from? Again, from the old Orthodox calendar. On January 13th at night people gather families and friends at rich dinner table. The atmosphere is more quite than on New Year's Eve, but there is a special custom when kids visit all houses around to sing carols and wish prosperity, sifting seeds beside the doors that can' t be swept till the end of holidays.
Tonight is Christmas and I believe this night is special. Be thankful for what you experienced last year, for people you met and places you visited. Make a wish and let it come true.
С Рождеством Христовым!