It was a very lovely last Reporting session of the term. There was only few of us in the class, as everyone else was freaking out about fast approaching deadlines. To make our lives easier and relax for a bit, Angela kindly let us talk about Christmas feature ideas, spreading the festive mood. While asking each other Christmas related questions, I got asked about my favourite Christmas movie and I had to give a bit more explanation on that. It might be unusual, but in russianspeaking households we do not really celebrate Christmas, which means I don't have a favourite Christmas movie. Yes, no turkey, no Christmas crackers, no favourite Christmas movie and to be entirely honest, I found out what the Boxing day is just a year ago.
As I've already mentioned, we do not celebrate Christimas on the 25th December. New Year's Eve is the main celebration time for us, when all the family and friends gather together. We do celebrate Christmas on 7th January though, following the old Julian (Orthodox) calendar, but on that day we usually go to the church and then have a quiet family dinner.
So let me put you at the scene and give you a short guideline on how to celebrate New Year's as Russian.
Most of our traditions came from Soviet Union times and it might sound a bit strange and feel like if the nation is stuck in time, but it became part of our culture and celebrating New Year's in this way feels incredibly good.
We cook loads of food
Seriuosly, you will never get to see this much of food during any other celebration. Tables are covered with loads of various dishes, so you don't even get a tiny bit of space for your fork to put. In a long term, it's great, as we end up eating all of it for at least few more days after the New Year's.
What is New Year's without mayonnaise filled salads? Russian traditional dish is Olivier salad, which is a mix of mayonnaise, potatoes, carrots, pickles, green peas, eggs and chicken or bologna. Along with dressed herring (which colloquially known as herring under a fur coat) , caviar sandwiches are one of our favourites (caviar is believed to be a very luxury ingridient and is ate only on special occassions).
We watch the same Soviet films on every New Year's
The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! is a romantic comedy of 1976, which is classic New Year's film for every russian speaker. It is broadcast on all TV channels on the 31st December and it usually plays on the background at every home, while the whole family is busy cooking and preparing for the New Year's celebration.
I've been watching this movie every year since I remember myself, but it never gets old and brings up the warmest feelings and takes me back to the childhood times.
We always watch President's speech
One can not imagine the proper New Year's Eve without watching President's New Year speech a few minutes before the Kremlin Clock chimes at midnight. He usually sums up the events that happened during this year and discusses outlooks for the future. This tradition is followed almost by every Russian, regardless of political views (my family watches it as well, even though we live in Lithuania). At midnight, the Kremlin Spasskaya Clock Tower chimes and the Russian national anthem begins. At this point people usually go outside to watch fireworks and this is the time when the real celebration begins.
We believe and try to follow weird superstitions
There is an omen which states that "a fulfillment of an upcoming year depends on how you spend your New Year's Eve". No one takes it seriuosly, but this superstition has always been around, so we genuinely try to make our New Year's celebration as exciting as possible.
Some of the Russian movies suggests that if you want your New Year's wish to come true, you need to write it down on a piece of paper, burn it, throw it into the glass of champagne and drink it all. The most important thing is that all these steps have to be done during the peal of bells of Kremlin Spasskaya Clock Tower. No one can guarantee that you won't end up with heartburn, but it's fun!