Can a year be new and old at the same time? I guess for Russians it could be because there is such a thing as OLD NEW YEAR (Старый Новый год) in Russia. This informal holiday falls on January 14th and concludes the set of holiday celebrations in Russia. 

Why do Russians have two New Years within two weeks? For the same reason the Orthodox Christmas lags behind for 14 days. The Gregorian calendar (the one we use) was adopted in Russia only in 1918. For a long time, many important dates and holidays had two notices – “old style” and “new style”. Therefore, the Old New Year is just a start of the year by the Julian calendar.

The Old New Year is a working day, but many Russians choose to celebrate...

Шампа́нское и икра́ | Champagne and Caviar

 

While these items were in shorter supply during the Soviet period, it was then that they became part of the New Year’s tradition.

The champagne (similar to sparkling wine) is usually the “Sovietskoye” brand, available everywhere in Russia and in most Russian stores overseas. 

The caviar is usually red and served on buttered bread.

 

Поздравле́ние Президе́нта | President’s New Year Wishes

 

Regardless of their political affiliations, Russians around the world tune in to hear the Russian president offer his wishes for the upcoming year. Once he finishes, the tower clock on Red Square (Кремлёвские кура́нты) chimes, fireworks (фейерве́рки) burst into the air...

New Year celebration just isn’t right without traditional New Year salads. These are not light green salads, but mayonnaise-infused and protein-thick works of art. One of the most popular salads most Russians make for New Year celebration is Olivier salad (сала́т оливье́), which was created in the 19th century by a French chef (шеф-по́вар) and owner of a French restaurant (владе́лец францу́зского рестора́на) in Moscow. It is sometimes known outside Russia as ‘ру́сский сала́т’.

The salad is usually made with mayonnaise (майонез), potatoes (карто́фель), carrots (марковь), pickles (марино́ваные огурцы́), green peas (зелёный горо́шек), eggs (я́йца), and chicken (ку́рица) or bologna (колбаса́). For m...

Ded Moroz (Дед Моро́з) or Father Frost, the Slavic version of Santa Claus, is a symbol of Russian winter and New Year’s holiday season. He is usually accompanied by his granddaughter Snegurochka (Снегу́рочка), his beautiful granddaughter, companion, and helper. They both ride in a traditional Russian troika (тро́йка), a sleigh drawn by three horses abreast.

 

Ded Moroz has a number of distinguishing features that help tell him apart from Santa Clause unmistakably. First of all, unlike Santa, Ded Moroz is rather tall and slender. Also, he never wears glasses. His outfit is different as well. Instead of wearing the Western Santa-style cap, he has a rounded Russian cap generously trimmed with fur and...

Unlike Americans who think of a decorated holiday tree as a Christmas tree (рожде́ственская ёлка), Russians always call it a New Year tree (нового́дняя ёлка). The tradition of putting up and decorating a spruce tree was introduced to Russia by Peter the Great in the 18th century, and the trees were decorated for Christmas at that time. Later, after the October Revolution in 1917, as a result of the antireligious campaign, Christmas celebrations were banned, and Christmas trees were replaced with secular New Year trees. This is how рожде́ственская ёлка became нового́дняя ёлка. Since then, traditionally, all Russians have decorated a spruce tree for New Year’s Day, but not for Christmas.

Фотография...

The tradition of sending holiday cards came to Russia from England. Illustrated cards that were in trend at the end of the 19th century in Western Europe, quickly gained their popularity in Russia. The first cards were brought from overseas by merchants, and the scripts on them were hand-written by calligraphers. Later, some book stores started ordering printed cards from Germany. Because of the delivery and handwriting expenses, those cards were very pricey.

Фотография ©Бибичков Михаил

 

The first Russian Christmas cards were created in 1872. New Year cards appeared very soon after that and were widely used by people of different strata of society. Among different varieties of cards, there we...

How could America get through the holiday season without the sparkling romantic music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" (Rus. Щелкунчик / Schelkunchik)? Tchaikovsky based his ballet suite on Alexandre Dumas père's "The Tale of the Nutcracker" (1845) a re-working of the original E.T.A. Hoffman tale "The Nutcracker and the Rat King" (1816).

 

The Nutcracker ballet premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1892. The ballet, with choreography by Marius Petipa and was not particularly successful at first, though Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker suite had considerable success.

 

Act one of Petipa'a original libretto of the ballet tells of a party on Christmas eve at the Stalbaum house. Mari...

I made a trip to a Russian store in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago and was surprised by the number of different 'sweet' gifts for kids in colorful paper bags, tins, and boxes. Small and big, expensive and not so, simple and sophisticated, decorated with iconic holiday images, they all represented the Russian tradition of New Year gift giving. 

 

Right there in the small Russian store, I vividly pictured New Year 'sweet' gifts from my childhood of the 60s and 70s. Those gifts were given to every child at a New Year school party or brought home by parents (paid by the trade unions). They were 'standard' cellophane-packaged treats, including few chocolate candy (the most delicious, expensive and...

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