Today we have Varya telling us all about New Year’s Eve in Russia!
Whenever I smell tangerines, the sensation instantly brings back warm memories of New Year season.
I’m Varya, mom of 2 girls, an early education expert blogging at Little Artists (http://littlartists.blog.com) about encouraging creativity in children, parenting, cooking and more! I am originally from Russia and reside in China with my family.
When I was growing up we never celebrated Christmas – most of my childhood Russia still belonged to USSR and New Year became a huge national holiday since around mid-1930s.
It was always a magical time for us. My father would carefully choose a real pine tree (it is called Christmas tree in the West and New Year’s tree in Russia), bring it home, and adjust the bottom to fit the special stand. Sometimes we had to cut the top a bit as well so we could fit the star at the top. Having the start on top was not only symbolic to New Year but the red star especially was somewhat patriotic and sort of represented the Soviet Union. Then, we would decorate the tree with special toys, real pines, tangerines, chocolate candy, cotton (as if it was the snow), snowflakes that we carefully cut out of paper and lights. We would wrap the presents and put them under the tree.
Grandpa Frost (Ded Moroz) and his granddaughter Snow-maden (Snegurochka) would visit us with a bag full of presents that were made of toys, candies, chocolate bars and apples. We were always so excited and had to dress up and perform a number in order to receive our gifts.
Most of December 31st we’d spend cooking and baking. Salad “Olivier”, Salad Vinigret, Russian Herring Under Fur Coat, meat cutlets, variety of pickles, sandwiches, dumplings, raviolis – these are a few of the typical Russian dishes that were mandatory on our table. Children would have fruit drinks (home made berry jam mixed in water), adults had to have champagne. Lots of baked stuff, cakes, never ending hot milk tea.
Right before the midnight we had a special tradition of wish-making: everyone had a piece of paper and a pencil/pen and a glass filled with a drink and candles lighted. When the last countdown would start on TV, we had to quickly write our wish, burn the paper and drink the ashes together with our drink. Needless to say the whole glass of drink had to be finished! It was a real competition and I remember how I was so disappointed a few times that I didn’t make it on time. When we grew older we would give it another try: Russia has 8 time zones, so after we had our midnight, we could “meet the New Year” once again an hour or 2 later!
I don’t remember if any wishes came through. I look back now and it was just fun filled with laughter, smell of tangerines and pine tree resin. You could try doing this during your New Year celebration!
HAPPY NEW YEAR from Russia!!