How to celebrate the end of the year in Russia

Russia, is the most mysterious country for most people. Foreigners are always interested in what to do in Russia, what to eat, whether it is safe to walk alone in the city streets and a thousand other questions. Also, for many people the traditions and habits of Russia’s inhabitants are interesting. The truth is that every region, or even every city, has its own culture and traditions about different aspects of life. But there is one holiday that unites the whole nation like never before, it is the way to celebrate the New Year in Russia and Christmas. And yes, exactly in this order. Now we will tell you how the New Year is celebrated in Russia. How is Russian New Year’s Eve?

As you know in Europe, the most important holiday is Christmas, on December 25th. The end of the year is also celebrated in Russia, but Christmas is something sacred. In Russia the opposite is true. On the one hand, in Russia Christmas is not celebrated on December 25, it is celebrated on January 7. But Russian New Year’s Eve is so majestic, so serious, that people begin preparations as early as the end of November.

But as you can see, we have not yet told you what exactly it is that the citizens of Russia do and how they prepare this event of the year.

First: that day, or more precisely, the night, is usually spent with the family, and after the carillon the young people leave the house with their friends. Many people also go for a walk in the streets congratulating everyone on the beginning of the New Year, (Russian: S Novim Gogom! (Happy New Year!)

Also, foreigners may find strange one thing that Russians do two or three weeks before New Year’s Eve: They, when they meet someone (it doesn’t matter if you know the other person or not) say: S nastupayshim! What is this? This is the way to congratulate the other person for the coming holidays. It’s like “Congratulations for the coming year. Usually, if they tell you this phrase, it is common to answer: Y vas s nastupayshim. (“I congratulate you too”). And everyone is happy.

The Christmas tree: it is a common symbol, but there are people who put only the branches of the Christmas tree, because it is cheaper and there is no need to “kill” a whole tree for just a couple of days. Also people buy an artificial tree, because it is very comfortable and clean afterwards.

What can attract the attention of visitors to Russia at Christmas is the decorations for the tree.  Now we can buy them in any store and there are countless quantities, but in the time of the Soviet Union it was very difficult to find interesting and beautiful ornaments (otherwise like almost everything), these ornaments from the time of the Soviet Union are often found in the homes of older people. If your Russian friends have grandparents, we recommend you to go and meet them for many reasons, one of them is to see these little wonders of the past. It is something special, which for Russians brings back memories of their childhood and the miracle of the New Year.

What they eat: The Christmas holidays are a very hard time for the Russians’ stomachs. This is serious, almost from December 31st to January 8th Russians eat non-stop. They also drink, but the most important thing is food. These are dates when people eat in excess. But what exactly do you eat?

The festive tables have everything. Depending on the family they make Russian salad (or olivie as they call it), herring under a fur coat (the dish for the brave, that salad has: Herring under a lot of vegetables like: potato, carrot, beet and all this is covered with mayonnaise). It’s strange, but it’s really good. They also cook a dish called Jolodets (jelly made from pork broth with vegetables). In my experience, not everyone can eat this dish.  They also make baked chicken, or baked duck, or other types of meat. Caviar, different types of fish slices, ham, cheese… are essential at the table.

In Russia, there are no typical Russian New Year’s Eve desserts. Because after so much food it is not possible to eat anything else. But for the most greedy, you can offer them as desserts, cakes or cookies.

Drinks: The drink without which you cannot imagine Christmas parties in Russia is champagne. The first toast is made only with this drink. Then anything, but champagne is an untouchable tradition.

Gifts: Russians give each other gifts on Russian New Year’s Eve. For the little ones, the parents leave the presents under the Christmas tree. Thus, on the morning of January 1st, it is a happy morning for all the children of the country, because each of them finds something desirable under the tree. In Russia there is a grandfather called Ded Moroz, who with his granddaughter Snegurochka, gives the presents to the children and sometimes also to the adults =).

In Russia there are 11 official holidays. From January 1st to January 11th. New Year’s Eve is celebrated on 31 December, and Christmas is celebrated on 7 January. This day is not celebrated in all its glory, it is just another day that can be spent with family members enjoying their free time. It is the traditional way of celebrating the New Year in Russia.

In general, for Russians, as for everyone, these holidays are an opportunity to get together with the family, to spend more time with their loved ones, with parents, grandparents, children, friends. These days we adults can feel our childhood again and live again happy, without worries and the stress of everyday life. It is a time of year when, in some way, we force ourselves to be happy because that is how it should be.

If you have something to share with us, send us an email here.