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How do Russians celebrate the New Year?


new year in Russia

Today, as in the article about Olivier salad, we will start with a story.

The date of the New Year in Russia was set by Peter the Great on January 1.

 

In Rus', before its conversion to Christianity, the New Year was celebrated on September 1st. However, during the reign of Peter the Great, due to his decree, people began to celebrate New Year twice a year: on September 1st as they were accustomed to, and then from December 31st to January 1st, on New Year's Eve. The Autumn New Year was adopted from Byzantium when Russia converted to Christianity in 988. Nowadays, New Year's in Russia is celebrated on the night of December 31st to January 1st.

 

christmas tree

An unchanging symbol of the New Year is the Christmas tree (in Russian called Ёлка), decorated with various toys, balls, tinsel, and garlands.




This holiday is most often celebrated within the family circle. At 23:55, everyone who has gathered to celebrate together sits at the festive table, starts serving dishes onto plates, chatting, and sharing memories of the past year. They reflect on the year's achievements and share them with each other.


At 00:00, everyone at the table raises glasses of champagne and makes kind and inspirational toasts.

 

Another Russian New Year tradition involves Father Frost (Дед Мороз), the main fairy-tale character of the Russian New Year's holiday, akin to the Western Santa Claus. Father Frost is a kind old man with a long white beard who brings gifts to every home. Father Frost has his own house, located in Veliky Ustyug. In 1999, this city was declared the home of Father Frost, making it a popular center for family tourism.


 

A special tradition on the New Year's table is the variety of dishes, many and diverse. The most popular among them include:


"Olivier" salad



In Russian, it's "Оливье". It's 100% a staple of a Russian New Year table! Read more about it here.


"Herring under a fur coat" salad



In Russian it's "Сельдь под шубой". If you want to make it for New Year, here's the recipe.


Sandwiches with red caviar and cream cheese



The recipe is very simple: bread, cream cheese, and caviar. Red caviar is quite an expensive ingredient to casually have on your table. But since it's a big celebration, why not have it on your table?


Eggs stuffed with red caviar



A bit of a variation of a regular sandwich with caviar is a boiled egg with red caviar. Fancy, huh?


Jellied fish


Now, this is something that won't be on every table in Russia, but it's common to see. We must warn you that it might have a weird texture, just like the next dish on our list.









Aspic



This is another dish with jelatin, but pork is used instead of fish. Some people LOVE this dish, while others have a strong dislike to the taste and feel of aspic. This dish will make you either love it or hate it!


Duck with apples in mustard sauce

It should look something like this:



But as you can imagine, it's quite hard to pull off! That's why it's a welcomed but rare guest on a Russian New Year table.


Meatloaf with prunes



Doesn't it look delicious? Well... it may not look delicious, but it is delicious! Here's a recipe.


Pork loin



Again, may not look delicious, but it truly is delicious. If you want to try to make it yourself, here's a recipe for it.


In Russia, New Year's holidays last about 10 days, with Christmas celebrated on January 7th. On the night of January 6th to 7th, Orthodox Russians celebrate this holiday. Traditionally, people would stay awake all night, visiting house to house, enjoying food and drinks, and caroling.

 

This New Year, we wish you warmth in your home, love, and sincerity!

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