New Year celebrations around the world are a time of new beginnings and looking forward to a hopefully prosperous year ahead. Russia is no exception, with millions of people valuing the New Year celebrations even more than Christmas celebrations. Today we will be giving you the low-down on some classic and fun Russian New Year’s traditions.
Originally, Russian New Year was celebrated on the 1st September, but in 1918 this all changed as the calendar was altered to align with western European celebrations on January 1st, as we know it now. Across the country, many people welcome the New Year twice! On January 14th, comes the “The Old New Year”, which marks the start of the year in the Russian Orthodox Calendar. Within this calendar Christmas also has a different day, January 7! As you can imagine the time between December and middle of January is filled with festive celebrations, that’s sure to test anyone’s festive stamina! Though considering celebrating New Year was once banned under the Soviet Era, it makes it an even more special time to celebrate and enjoy with family and friends.
The different practices that occur across the world to celebrate the same event are amazing to think about and New Year’s Eve in Russia has both similar and special customs to its world neighbors. No New Year’s celebration would be complete without a family meal. Families gather together, eating, drinking and laughing until late into the night. The foods are rich and delicious, some exciting Russian New Year’s food includes pickled herring, caviar topped black bread, homemade pickles, marinated mushrooms, and fresh salads. To accompany their delicious feasts, Russians often drink sparkling wine or vodka and afterward take to the windows and streets to admire a sky lit up by bright fireworks. Each year a televised address by the Russian President takes place just before the turn of the clock and once it strikes midnight, people take to the snow and build their best snowmen! Perhaps Ded Moroz, also known as Grandfather Frost, may even pay a visit with his trusty granddaughter Snegurochka. Keep an eye out for him! He wears a long blue coat, holds a staff with which he makes snow, and is led by three white horses. Russian children wait eagerly to receive presents from him…but only if they have been good that year!
In Moscow people brave the harsh winter night to watch one firework show in particular that is renowned for just how spectacular it is, of course, it takes place in the historic Red Square. There’s nothing quite like a firework display with a warm, comforting cup of Glintvein (Russian Mulled Wine) to welcome in the New Year! Other cities hold similar fireworks displays, with each trying to outdo the rest resulting in some of the most wonderful displays in the world. Once the fireworks are finished, people head to the bars and restaurants in the cities and partake in some good, traditional Russian dancing and sing along to traditional songs. In major cities, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, many younger people favor the cool clubs as their next destination. With many of the world’s best nightclubs, it’s no wonder they want to dance their way well into the early hours of New Year’s Day!