вторник, 25 декабря 2012 г.

The New Year's celebration in Russia

For Russians, there is no holiday more important than the New Year’s Day. Christmas is less popular in Russia compared to Britain or the USA, where it is the greatest holiday of the year. After the Revolution in 1917 religion was called as "opium for people" and Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious holidays. So celebrating the New Year’s Day became a sort of "replacement" for it. Only after 75 years, in 1992, Christmas became openly observed. Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th, in accordance with the old Julian calendar. A lot of people go to church services that night.

By the way if follow the orthodox rules, from the end of November till the first star on the sky on the 6th of January it’s fasting time. But not many people follow it; otherwise they wouldn’t be able to celebrate the New Year’s Day which falls on the last week of the fasting.  This mess happened because of the use of two calendars, the new one and the old one. But before that we celebrated the New Year’s Day a week after Christmas and it was ok, fasting was over and there was no need to break orthodox rules. Don't be surprised, but at midnight on the 13th of January people in Russia celebrate Old New Year on the Julian calendar, used in Russia before 1918. Everything goes in the same way. Russian people celebrate twice.

New Year’s Day is the most beloved holiday in Russia. People start waiting for it since the end of summer. It’s like a light spot during long and dark winter.  People usually make grandiose plans on New Year’s party.  There is also a tradition among big organizations to rent a restaurant for employees and to make an entertainment program for them as a team building means and also to see the workers in real informal life.

People gather for the New Year‘s celebration at night on the 31st of December. Russian Holiday tradition includes a decorated New Year's tree - Yolka (fir tree). For Russian, the New Year is a family holiday; people think about friends and relatives prepare presents for everyone.  But young people prefer to have the New Year parties of their own and often visit New Year’s parties at night clubs, but only after Midnight, because it’s a strong tradition to greet the New Year with champagne, listen to the Kremlin chimes beating 12 o'clock and watch the congratulation of the President in a family circle. Even those who don’t like champagne should drink a bit anyway.  

After the President’s tost people shout [SN’ovim G’odahm] (Happy New Year) and then tell other toasts. For example, translated into English as follows, "My grand-grandfather said: "I have a desire to buy a house, but I have no opportunity. I have an opportunity to buy a she-goat, but I have no desire". So, let's drink to having correspondence of our wishes and opportunities!"

Many of such toasts are said during this night dinner. In every house one could smell tangerines; it’s a symbol of sun and future summer, the host usually cooks fish dishes as a symbol of fertility. By the way no NY celebration can omit special salad Olivier. This salad should be in every family.  
1lb of bologna
1 can (15 oz) of sweet peas
3 middle size potatoes
4-5 middle size carrots
5-6 eggs
1 bunch of green onions
1 bunch of fresh dill
5-6 middle size cucumbers (pickled with salt not with vinegar, that is important)
black pepper
Mayonnaise by taste (the more the better)

Children wait for this day so eagerly; they have a pause at school, about 2 weeks. Small kindy-kids write letters to Grandfather Frost (Rus. Ded Mor’oz) and describe what presents they would like to be presented.  Moms prepare masquerade costumes for children.  Ded Mor’oz has a granddaughter Sneg’oorochka (Snowmaiden). They come together at a kid’s home and give presents in exchange for a poem or a song.  Ded Moroz usually looks like Santa, but he wears long outer garment that can be red or blue. Snegoorochka  has a long plait, a kok’oshnik (woman's headdress in old Russia) and a blue fur coat.  For travelling around Russia they use a sleigh harnessed to a troika (three horses harnessed abreast).

There is a special New Year song about little fir tree. Kids usually sing it and dance around the tree. This dance is called Chorovod. It’s very old and popular. Usually not only kids but also parents dance it outside after dinner at New Year’s Night.

Then the firework comes. It continues the tradition to scare evil spirits with loud sounds and fire.  Everybody hugs, congratulate each other and feel happy.