The ultimate Russian holiday is New Year. Christian Christmas is celebrated on December 25th, but Russia celebrated Orthodox Christmas on January 7th and “Old” Russian New Year on January 14th (from the old Julian calendar) During the Soviet Era, the people of Russia were not allowed to celebrate Christmas.
To keep their honored customs and traditions, the people began huge celebrations with family and friends on New Year. Singing, dancing, ice skating and of course the champagne toasts “S Novym Godom” (Happy New Year!).
Peter the Great officially established January 1st as the day to ring in the New Year and celebrate Christmas. He wanted to keep aligned with the European’s celebrations.
Food is a very large part of the celebrations. Of course, Soviet champagne is used for toasting to a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Olivier Salad is a must on any table, named after Lucien Olivier, a famous gourmet French chef of the XIX Century. This is a diced potato salad with carrots, bologna, eggs, sweet peas, onions and a mayonnaise and sour cream sauce.
Selyodka Pod Shuboy (herring with a fur coat!) is another essential dish for Russia. The fur coat is just for amusement and signifies the layers of mayonnaise and vegetables topping the herring.
Red caviar on bread and Russian chocolate candies are also customary.
Many Christmas Markets are alive with beautiful decorations, music and wonderful traditional shopping. There are lots of activities for the children and a chance to see Ded Moroz and Snegurochka to share their wishes for Christmas gifts.
The center of the city is aglow with twinkling holiday lights, fabulous New Years trees, concerts and the magnificent palaces and cathedrals are lit up.
A magnificent fireworks display at midnight, at the Winter Palace, along the Neva River is the delight of all to behold.
Peter and Paul Fortress hosts the not to be missed, annual Ice Sculpture Festival and the Yolki! Yolki! Yolki! Festival (trees that are decorated in all different art forms).
From us at Dancing Bear Tours, have a safe, happy, holiday and a prosperous New Year!