Russian New Year's Eve

 

Author: Grace Carter
Last update: 09/08/2008

Celebrated by:

Russians!


Date:

January 1st, and again on January 13th. Whoo!


How to say Happy New Year:

"All together now: SNO-vim GO-dahm! Schnis-LEE-vah-vah NO-vah-vah GO-dah! Just don’t ask us how to write it in Cyrillic script.


History:

Ever wondered why the October Revolution took place in November? It's because until that fateful day in 1917, the Russians went by the old Julian calendar (explained briefly in the history section of Western New Year). Before the switch to Communism occurred, Christmas in Russia occurred on what was January 7th according to the new Gregorian calendar. Along with a new calendar came a strict government that forbade religious holidays. Horrifyingly to many, Christmas, formerly the most beloved day of Russians, became verboten. Luckily, the country's leaders weren't against secular partying, and New Year's moved into the frontrunner's spot in the raddest-day-of-the-year competition. It took 75 years for Christmas to be openly observed again, and by that time, people had become pretty damn fond of January 1st. But, many agreed, it somehow didn't feel right to celebrate the New Year before Christmas-still recognized on January 7. So the wily Russians reinstated the Old New Year according the Julian calendar, and now they have nights of New Year's merry-making, although only the first one is the official holiday.


Values and traditions:

Because New Year essentially replaced Christmas, a lot of traditions have carried over. Hence, on the eve of the New Year, children gather around a decorated fir tree and await Grandfather Frost (a.k.a. Ded Moroz) and his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden-the Russian version of Santa and his elves. Lucky kids might actually meet them, never suspecting their favorite holiday characters are some disguised college kids making a few bucks over the New Year.

The most important holiday in Russia is chimed in by the Kremlin at 12 o'clock. Like the Westerners, Russians have been known to indulge in a bit of the bubbly at this propitious moment. After midnight, gifts are opened under the tree, and then there's a big family dinner for those staying home, while other revelers dance and sing in the streets. You know Jingle Bells? Well, it's also a traditional New Year's song in Russian.

As with Western New Year, the culture surrounding the holiday has eroded a bit, so that while families with young kids often stick together and open presents, the younger crowd has been known to indulge in wild partying at nightclubs. In big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg, New Year's Eve means great business for the restaurants and discos. The ballet and the theatre are also popular destinations.

And for the people that want a little more holiday in their lives, on January 13th, it all happens again.


 

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