Probably you will be surprised to hear this but here, In Russia, the New Year celebration beats Christmas to a great extent. Moreover, what people in the Western countries would call a Christmas Tree is considered as New Year Tree for Russians. Russians just love New Year’s Eve, for us it’s such a huge event and every year we wait impatiently for that special night!
People spend large sums of money trying to find presents for their close ones while Russian women start their dress hunting well in advance, so they will look absolutely splendid on that magical night. No less to say about festive table! Holiday menu is scrupulously devised, the best recipes are saved for that event. In other words, Russians are doing their best to make this night unforgettable. And the reason why follows a tradition that the way you celebrate a New Year’s Eve determines the way you’re going to spend the whole next year.
While New Year’s celebration colorful and loud, Christmas is, the opposite, a quiet and more private celebration in the family circle. But why New Year in Russia is way more popular than Christmas? Initially, just like in United States and European countries Christmas in Russia was the most important winter holiday. However, after 1929 because of governmental anti-religious campaign Christmas was officially banned and since then celebration has just shifted to New Year’s Eve.
Why all this talk of the Year of the Earth Pig about?
If you check the Chinese calendar, you will see that 2019 is going to be a year of the “earth pig“. And we, Russians, truly love eastern horoscope traditions, so if you’re currently in Russia then no doubt very soon you’ll see pigs simply everywhere from candles and postcards to cakes. Technically, the year of Earth Pig will start only on February the 5th. But who says you can’t start to celebrate it now? On celebration night people dress up in accordance with zodiac sign’s colors and dinner’s menu should be elaborated excluding all ingredients that could offend zodiac sign. Therefore, the next year is represented by yellow, grey and green colors while new year’s wishes should include meat, fish, cereals, as well as fruits, vegetables, pulses and dairy products. Apart from these borrowed traditions New Year meals always include Russian salad, herring and sparkling wine. While the scent of tangerines and oranges is widely associated with new year celebration among Russian people. Grandfather Frost is the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus, who with his companion granddaughter Snegurochka (“The Snow Girl”) became a symbol of Russian new year and presents.
At about 11.55 pm all Russians stand in front of a TV to hear a speech given by the country’s president, who mentions all the achievements of the past year and all plans and objectives for the next year. Then, after the Kremlin clock strikes midnight twelve times, people raise their glasses filled with champagne and this is the magic moment to make a wish. Sometimes if you really want to make your greatest wish come true, you can raise the probability by writing it down on a scrap of paper, burning it and drinking the ashes with your champagne right after midnight. But be careful this ritual needs some level of proficiency, so you should practice with it first :D After that people congratulate each other, exchange gifts and continue to celebrate all night long!
Oh, wait! One more thing you need to know! Russians welcome the New Year by saying “С Новым Годом!” (S Novim Godom!), so if you're going to visit Russia during New Year holidays, be prepared to say it a lot!