Russians celebrate New Year
In the last week of December Russian people start shopping for food and presents. All shopping centers and supermarkets are buzzing with festive shoppers. Everyone is very excited for the upcoming holidays.
On 31st December Russian families start cooking a lot of food, mainly salads and mains. They get out their champagne glasses and, at around 7-8 pm, set up the table. Friends or family members arrive by 8-9 pm and everyone starts eating and chatting joyfully. At midnight every Russian household turns on Channel 1 and waits for the clock to chime twelve. They cheer in the New Year and then listen to the President’s speech.
Everyone then goes for a walk to watch the fireworks and see the big Christmas tree.
The kids wake up on 1st January and find their presents under the Christmas tree and adults exchange presents at the table at around midnight.
New Year means a big deal for Russian people and they put a lot of effort into the preparations. New Year comes first and is more widely celebrated than Christmas.
Russians celebrate Christmas
Whilst in most Christian countries Christmas is celebrated on 25th December, in the Christian Orthodox world Christmas is celebrated on 7th January.
Christmas is a more religious celebration hence why some people go to church and have a family meal in the evening. However, nowadays Christmas isn’t as widely celebrated as New Year In Russia. Some do exchange presents at Christmas, however, it’s not obligatory as it is on New Year’s Eve. In the past people wouldn’t sleep on Christmas Eve walking the streets and singing songs all night. Then there were a lot more traditions and people took Christmas more seriously.
One big thing in Russian religion is divination or fortune-telling. It is considered to be a sin at all times except on 6th January (Russian Christmas Eve). Many young girls used to get together before midnight and perform certain rituals to help them predict the future or find a husband. It’s believed that the dark forces are at their strongest on Christmas Eve and you can get very accurate predictions. I assume some women still do it. It can get spooky at times but so much fun if you do it with your girlfriends.
Russians celebrate The Old New Year
Between 13th and 14th January there’s another informal celebration that Russian people have – The Old New Year or the Orthodox New Year. Although Russia adopted the Gregorian calendar, New Year is still celebrated by the Julian calendar as well. It’s not a big thing however people still set the table and have a small feast in the evening of 13th January.
Read next about Russian superstitions that will drive you crazy.