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10 Symbols and Traditions of Russian New Year
December 28, 2011 15:10

Long, Long Holiday Week
Russian people used to have day-offs on January 1-2 (New Year) and January 7 (Christmas), though it was quite difficult to be in the mood for work between these two holidays. Several years ago Russian officials decided to combine several not so important holidays in one long holiday week from December 31 to January. Moreover, if one of these day-offs fall to weekend, it is moved to another day, so usually the holiday week can last till January 10. Many people say it is too long, and such holidays cause a financial loss to the country. It is also very hard for people to enter the working regime after such a long rest. But officials still doesn't change anything, so it is very important to prepare for the holiday week in Russia and make it as interesting and active as it possible.

Rich Festive Table
Though there are a lot of different ways to celebrate New Year in Russia, most people still prefer to gather around the rich festive table accompanied by their relatives and close friends. There are no any traditional New Year and Christmas dishes on Russian tables (expect the ones, we'll tell you later about), so every family cooks snacks, salads, meat and deserts in accordance with its own domestic traditions. But the general tradition is to make the festive table rich and plentiful, using interesting recipes and delicacies. So you won't be disappointed if you be invited to celebrate New Year at somebody's Russian house.  


In the Soviet time tangerines were a sort of hard-to-get thing, so that fruit was served on the Soviet peoples' tables only once a year - during New Year holidays. No wonder that several generations linked the taste and scent of tangerines with New Year holidays. Now Russian people don't know such a word as "deficit" and tangerines can be bought everywhere. But their scent still reminds people about merry winter holidays, so that fruit is a mandatory attribute on the feast tables in Russia.

Russian Salad (Salade Olivier)
Classical Salade Olivier was invented in the 1860s by Lucien Olivier, the chef of the Hermitage  restaurant, one of Moscow's most celebrated restaurants. Later the recipe was simplified, some rare ingredients were swapped for something more accessible in the Soviet Union. The modern version of the popular salad, named "Russian Salad" includes meat (cow tongue or red beef meet or bologna sausage or non-spicy ham or white chicken meat), eggs, carrots, potatoes, apple, pickles, cucumber, green peas, onion and mayonnaise with sour cream as a souse. This salad is the main and necessary dish at ever holiday and especially on New Year's night. It is quite easy to cook and also very tasty and filling.
The full Russian Salad's recipe and other traditional recipes for Russian New Year's table you can find here (in English)


The Kremlin Clock Chimes
The Kremlin Clock is a historic clock on the Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin. Usually, for decades the chimes have rung on the quarter hour, with bells tolling for each full hour. Every New Year's night hundreds of people gather in the Red Square to celebrate the coming of the new year. They usually listen to the president's traditional speech and then wait for the first stroke of the Kremlin Clock, which marks the beginning of the new year. It is rather a solemn moment, so many people go to the Red Square every year, just to go through it again and again. But the majority of Russians go through that moment just sitting in front of TV, as the Kremlin Clock Chimes is a necessary part of special New Year's translation. So, there is no person in the country, who don't think of New Year, when he or she hears the Kremlin Clock Chimes.
Kremlin Clock Chimes and Russia's National Anthem

The President's Speech
Every year on December 31, at five minutes to twelve, the incumbent President of the Russian Federation gives speech in record for the television. The President stands against the Kremlin and speaks shortly about the country's life in the outgoing year. Then he sends his greetings to all the Russians. The end of the president's speech is usually followed by the first stroke of the Kremlin Clock. Though the text for that speech is not very original, there can be some interesting moments during the speech. For example, in 1999 the first President of the Russian Federation (1991-1999), Boris Yeltsin, used his traditional New Year speech to make a surprise announcement of his resignation.
 The President's New Year Speech: How does it  look (in Russian)

Ded Moroz and Snegurochka.
Ded Moroz (Father Frost the Red Nose) and his granddaughter Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden) are two legendary characters, which bring presents to Russian children. Ded Moroz comes on the first night of the new year and leaves his presents under the New Year’s Tree. He is dressed in a red costume and has a huge white beard, large bag with presents inside, and a staff. Snegurochka is dressed in light blue coat and usually has a long braid. The official residence of Ded Moroz is Veliky Ustyug, Vologda Region. Ded Moroz and Snegurocha are the necessary guests at all Christmas and New Year shows and parties. It is also possible to invite Ded Moroz and Snegurochka to your child, such services has become very popular the last few years.

Christmas Tree
Of course, the Christmas firtree is not just Russian symbol of Christmas and New Year. But for Russians the Christmas tree and its decoration is very important. Their special love are small and flexible Russian firtrees, which smell so fresh and wonderful. It is considered that such living Christmas tree must be in every family with children. And, of course, Christmas toys and decorations - they must be various, original and masterful. Russians don't like hackneyed crafts, they also often make Christmas decorations themselves. 

Christmas-Tree Shows for Children
 Christmas-Tree Shows are traditional holiday events for children, which are usually held in Russian recreation centres, clubs, theatres and even in the Town Hall, the Kremlin, the Cathedral of the Christ the Saviour, Luzhniki Sport Complex, the Hall of Columns and other famous places. These events are usually theatrical fancy-dress performances with the participation of Ded Moroz, Snegurochka and characters from Russian fairy-tales, cartoons and films. Children are not just watchers but active participants of the performances. They sing and dance in a ring around the big Christmas Tree, take part in games and contests, help actors in their theatrical adventure. In the end Ded Moroz presents all the children with gifts. Christmas-Tree shows were created in the Soviet time, and it is still the best present parents can give their kids in Russia.
Reportage from the Chritmas-Tree Show in the Kremlin (in Russian)

Chinese Astrology
Russians like their traditions, but they are also very good in adoption of some foreign culture elements. Many symbols of European and American Christmas holidays have already come into Russian culture and don't look like something alien. The truly amazing thing is Chinese astrology which have recently become a real madness for Russian people. Almost every person can tell you what is the symbol of the coming year (by the way, in 2012 it is a Dragon). It has become very popular to present souvenirs in the form of these symbols. Some people even try to cook the dishes the astrology animal would like or to dress in this animal's colours. Like all fashion trends this ardour for Chinese astrology is buzzy and kind of fool, but many people find it very funny, so Chinese Dragons, Snakesand Monkeys surely will come to visit us next several years. 



Author: Julia Alieva

Tags: Russian Winter New Year Christmas   

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