The magnificent Russian nation has humungous geographical territory that spreads across eleven time zones, but all celebrate New Year with great joy and enthusiasm. This acts as a tremendous unifying factor in this nation of diversities. The New Year revelry cuts across ideological, religious and ethnical divides, existing among the Russian society and brings people closer to each other. The beginning of the New Year signifies hope for a better future for Russians. Today, New Year celebrations have become a bigger occasion than any other holiday in Russia and are celebrated with intense fervor with exhilarating family gatherings, delectable food, and free-flowing sparkling wine. The Russians celebrate this festive occasion as per their famous saying, which goes as "the way you spend New Year's Eve is the way you will spend the rest of the year".
Much like rest of the contemporary world, Russians also observe New Year's Day on January 1 as per the Gregorian calendar; however, this was not the case always. Earlier, this day was celebrated in the month of September but was abolished by Czar Peter, the Great. In 1699, an official declaration was made announcing January 1st as New Year's Day. It was only after this that the general Russian population began to observe New Year on this day. The New Year celebrations have certain unique features attached to it, as it is celebrated here similar to Christmas celebrated in the Americas. The New Year celebrations revolve around the beautifully decorated Yolka, which is the New Year's tree, and has the same significance as the Christmas tree. This mixture of New Year and Christmas traditions in Russia can be attributed to the fact that after the success of the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Bolshevicks completely banned the celebration of all religious holidays. Therefore to compensate for this, the Russians started celebrating New Year as somewhat secular Christmas.
New Year Traditions
Russians follow various wonderful as well as exclusive rituals and traditions. While celebrating New Year, this gives the occasion an aura of exclusiveness, which makes it stand apart from New Year revelry around the world. Some such traditions are mentioned below.
As mentioned earlier, the most significant part of New Year celebrations in this part of the world is Novogodnaya Yolka. This fir tree is decorated by Russians with great care. They use shiny trinkets and tinsels, stars, and bells, along with sweets and chocolates to ornate its branches. Besides this, as per the traditional Russian belief system, it is said that this is the time when Father Frost or Ded Moroz, with his granddaughter Snegurochka or the snow girl, visits homes with gifts for all children. Kids wait eagerly for the New Year's Day as they find stunning presents placed under the New Year trees. Melodious songs are sung by them on this occasion to give thanks to Father Frost and his granddaughter. Another age-old custom observed on this day is indulgence in fortune telling. This fantastic ritual sees many young, unmarried women enjoying the predictions made by fortunetellers about how wonderful their coming year's fortune would be. Also, various predictions are made regarding their love interests.
No matter which part of the world one looks at, all have different, special cuisines that are served with great relish on New Year's Eve to welcome the approaching year. Then, how can traditional, sumptuous and appetizing Russian dishes be left behind? Among the congenial gathering of close friends and family members, huge mouthwatering portions of meat, green peas, pickles, salads, preserves, mayonnaise, onion, carrots, potatoes, and caviar are served to the guests. Besides this, jars of canned fruit and vegetables, saved for the occasion, miraculously appear on the feast tables, horded out of cellars and other hiding places.
New Year Celebrations
Although most Russians like to celebrate New Year at private family get-togethers, but large public celebrations are quite common in large cities of the country. Humongous New Year parties organized in Moscow and St. Petersburg are quite lavish affairs attended by hundreds of people and their proceedings are broadcasted throughout the world. Another popular celebratory tradition followed in Russia, to mark this occasion is that various generations in a family sit together and watch New Year shows which are broadcasted once a year on Russian TV networks.
Mesmerizing and breathtaking firework displays can be seen in various large cities of Russia as the clock strikes twelve on New Year's Eve. The political brass doesn't remain untouched by the festive mood; in fact, it participates in the festivities wholeheartedly. The Russian President, in Moscow, countdowns the final seconds of the "old year" and the large clock at the Kremlin chimes the arrival of the New Year. In fact, one of the largest traditional celebrations of the New Year's Eve takes place at the Kremlin itself, where more than 50,000 people gather to join in the festivities; the tickets to this annul event sell like hotcakes.
New Year is welcomed with great revelry and enthusiasm in Russia amidst lots of customs and celebrations.