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In With the Old: New Year's in Russia

2. December 2009 by Marie 0 Comments

Lucky Russia! With its use of two calendars, its people get to Celebrate Christmas and New Year's twice.


Yet distinctive among the Orthodox and western festivities that span December and January is a holiday known as Old New Year (The little girl in the cartoon is wishing St. Nicholas a "Happy Old New Year," showing how the two holidays blend in Russia).


A quick history lesson: The Orthodox Christian church has used the Julian calendar since 1054, when it split from the Roman Catholic church. Although Soviet Russia officially adopted the Gregorian (western) calendar in 1918, Russian Orthodox followers still celebrate their official Christmas in January.


But Old New Year's is no longer official. Observed January 14, it is enjoyed as a "second" New Year's celebration, albeit more quietly and reflectively than the glitzy worldwide bashes on January 1.


Old New Year's traditions include big family meals, singing and celebratory drinking. Another feature is lighthearted fortune-telling, often by -- ready for this? -- dumplings! Boiled vareniki are pre-made with some small surprises inserted by the cook. No one knows what they will get, but each gift is supposed to portend the recipient's coming year. These include:  


  • Flour (trials and testing to come)
  • Beans (children in the future for a new bride)
  • A button (a new dress)
  • Sugar (a sweet year)
  • Salt (the year may not be smooth)
  • Pepper (the year will be a bit on the spicy, interesting side)
  • Coin (a windfall)


Is there a Russian bride in your future? Skip the dumplings; scan our sexy photo galleries and wish our ladies staryi novyi goad on January 14th.