С новым годом! Russian Happy New Year

Happy New Year! We managed to survive our first new year's celebration. Actually, it didn't really affect us much.

Russians have many traditions for welcoming the new year, but we chose to sit it out last night, except for a few firecrackers and small fireworks that someone in our complex shot off between 11:30 and 1:30.

According to our Russian teacher, a typical Russian meal for New Year's Eve actually begins very early on December 31st when the women in the family get together to start preparing for the New Year's Eve dinner. They work together chopping all the ingredients for the two main dishes for the gathered family - Olivye salad and Herring salad.

Olivye Salad
Our Russian talk group had a session on making Olivye salad. The ingredients are potatoes, carrots, pickles, green peas, eggs, chicken and mayonnaise. My first impression was that it didn't impress me very much. The Herring salad has herring, potatoes, carrots, onions, and beets in layers with mayonnaise over all.

Herring Salad
That is a lot of chopping. Champagne and caviar on buttered bread are also a requirement for this feast.

This is eaten very late in the evening making sure you're finished in time to go to the town square to hear the televised speech by President Putin at 11:55 and the clock to announce the new year. Then the fun begins!

After midnight, the revelers meet friends to celebrate the new year in pubs or roaming the streets until the fireworks begin at 3 AM. I'm sure there's lots of vodka involved in this partying. Now you know why we didn't even try to join in the fun last night. At least, the main fireworks were so far from our flat that we didn't hear them at 3:00.

Дед Мороз и Снегурочка
That's not the end of the celebration, however, the fun continues on January 1st. That's the favorite part of the holidays for the children. Ded Moroz - Grandfather Frost - and his granddaughter  Snegurochka - the Snow Maiden - visit homes and bring presents to the children.

I'm not sure of the traditions around those gifts. I read that most homes have New Year's trees called yolka. They are shorter and wider versions of our Christmas trees. Somehow the presents must be placed under these trees since I've seen presents under trees in stores here.

So, how do people recover from this huge celebration? The government takes care of that. December 31st to January 8th are declared non-working national holidays by law. All schools, banks, government workers, and most other workers are off for all that time - unpaid. Maybe the employers like that, but I'm not sure about the workers who don't get a paycheck for those days. January 7th is the Orthodox Christmas celebration, however, but other than that, they are just declared holidays.

I have no idea what people do for all those days. I heard that the stores are open so maybe they shop. We'll have to wait and see.

Some Russian holiday traditions as seen with Masha and the Bear: Masha as Snegurochka

Information taken from 10 Requirements for a Russian New Year


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