While the world is back at work since early January, Russian New Year holidays are still under way until the Russian Old New Year, celebrated in the night from January 13th to January 14th. Though Soviet Russia has officially followed the Gregorian calendar as far back as 1918, the Russian Orthodox Church continues using the Julian calendar, which lags 13 days behind. Since Soviet Union times, when celebrating Christmas was discouraged, the New Year became a holiday most loved by the people and is always celebrated twice. (Photo Credit: CoffeeCupcake/Flickr)
After the collapse of the communist empire, the Orthodox Christmas, falling on January 7th, has returned to favor, making the first part of January in Russia a non-ending vacations. In 1994, in order to follow the tradition, Russian official May holidays (from the First of May till the Victory Day on May 9th) were moved to the beginning of the year.
Old New Year
Unlike New Year and Orthodox Christmas, Old New Year is not an official holiday though it influences the whole schedule of Russian celebrations. For Russians, who do not usually celebrate western Christmas, the New Year (January 1st) is a festive day like Christmas in the western world. The president of Russia, widely broadcasted by national TV and radio, usually counts down the final seconds of the outgoing “Old Year”, and then a giant Kremlin tower clock chimes in the New Year. A New Year’s Tree (Christmas tree), called Novogodnaya Yolka, is present in each home, usually topped with a shining star and decorated with candies. Besides vodka and Russian salad, traditional foods include Champagne and Mandarin oranges.
Old New Year is more family-like and less solemn than official New Year. It is usually spent in calm atmosphere with close and dear people and gives a good chance to specify New Year’s resolutions. Most families keep their New Year’s trees and full tables until after the Old New Year day. The Russian television usually broadcast a classical Soviet movie “Old New Year” and repeat its New Year holiday shows. Last New Year’s night Russia’s main TV channel has joked gently on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev in a funny Putin-Medvedev cartoon. The ruling duet, dancing and singing on Red Square, review the major “Old Year” events, including the US spy scandal, Russia’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup, and the firing of Moscow mayor.
The whole period from January 1st till January 14th is a kind of winter vacations in Russia, when schools and most offices are closed. For many Russians Soviet-time May vacations were much more useful than long vodka-drinking winter vacations, because ordinary people used this opportunity to go to their dachas for gardening and preparing for summer season.
But for new Russian elite, consisting of politicians, celebrities and oligarchs, the winter holidays give a good chance to spend extra money at the best world resorts.
Traditionally, the new Russians prefer French fashionable ski resort of Courchevel, Cote d’Azur and Paris, where luxury hotels are busy adjusting prestigious Russian-themed parties with a special menu of beef Stroganoff, caviar, blinis and vodka to mark the Russian Old New Year. (Photo Credit: Amadeusz ‘alfanick’ Jasak/Flickr)
Anyway, the Old New Year parties put a stop in long Russian winter celebrations. Due to time zones, the Russian New Year’s arrival is celebrated nine times in this world’s largest country, starting from Russian Far East and finishing in Baltic Kaliningrad.