The magic of the New Year’s Eve in Russia
- Posted by: Elena Killiakova
- Category: Matryoshka’s diary
Even though it’s already day 2 of 2020, people in Russia do not even think about getting back to work. The question naturally arises “Why is the New Year celebration so special for Russian people?” Let’s find the answer with Enjoy Russian School author Elena.
The way you meet the new year is the way you will spend it
Every Russian knows this New Year’s saying: “Как Новый год встретишь, так его и проведешь.” As a result, many Russian holiday traditions are connected to that belief:
- The New Year’s Day has to be joyous and festive, free from worries and arguments. Forgive those who’ve wronged you, repay your debts, clean the house.
- In addition to cleansing the soul and the house, it’s a tradition to purify the body as well. For that reason, on December 31, many Russians go to banya (Russian saunas) or at least take a hot bath.
- The holiday feast is not just for indulgence’s sake. It’s believed that an abundant table with the best variety of dishes and refreshments symbolizes prosperity and well-being in the coming year. If the food is scarce and ordinary, the year will be “famished.”
- It’s also a bad omen to sleep through New Year’s—then the year will be “sleepy” and uneventful.
- To properly meet the new year, you have to say goodbye to the old year. Before midnight, usually around 10 pm, everyone gathers at the table to discuss the year that’s ending, to revisit its best moments, and to wish each other good luck and new achievements in the coming year.
- It’s also believed that to honor the New Year, it’s best to wear new clothes, or at least new underwear.
- When the clock starts striking midnight at the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower, it’s time to toast with champagne and make wishes. To make sure that the wish comes true, you need to write it down on a scrap of paper, burn it, throw the ashes into the champagne glass and drink it—all before the clock strikes 12!
How to Say “Happy New Year!” in Russian
“S novym godom!”
“S prazdnikom!” (“Happy holiday!”)
“S nastupayushchim!” (“Happy upcoming year!”)
Reply: “I vas takzhe!” (And you too!)
What Russian Celebration of New Year is Really Like?
Traditionally New Year is celebrated in a family circle or with close friends at home. Many delicious dishes are cooked for the New Year’s eve. A bottle of Soviet sparkling wine(“Советское Шампанское”) or any other Champaign is a must, while celebrating Russian New Year. Some of the traditional and most popular Russian New Year’s dishes are:
- Холодец [ha-la-D’YETS] Holodets (jelled minced meat)
- Салат «Оливье» [sa-LAT a-leev’-YE] salad “Olivie”
- Салат «Винегрет» [sa-LAT vee-neeg-RYET] salad “Vinigret”
- Сельдь под шубой [S’YEL’T’ pat SHOO-bay] salad “Herring under the fur coat”.
New Year is one of the most favourite celebrations for kids, here is why: New Year is also when ‘Grandfather Frost’ (known in Russian as ‘Ded Moroz’ or Дед Мороз) brings presents to children. He is always accompanied by his granddaughter (Snegurochka). On the New Year’s Eve children hold hands, make a circle around the Christmas tree and call Snegurochka or Ded Moroz. When they appear the star and other lights on the Christmas tree light up!
How to make a wish on the New Years’ Eve:
You can make a wish when the chimes are striking 12 and then have a sip of champagne or sparkling wine. Write down your wish on a tiny piece of paper while the Kremlin chimes are striking midnight, then burn it, soak it in a glass of Champagne and then drink it. Rush outside right after the midnight to enjoy colourful fireworks – they are also a big part of the Russian New Year’s Eve. Fireworks are followed by exchanging of New Year presents. If the children are asleep, they will find their gifts under the New Year tree in the morning.
Interested in studying Russian, learning more about Russian culture and traditions, trying some traditional Russian food or even making some yourself? Come study with us!