The New Year is the main winter holiday for most Russians and probably the main and most desirable holiday of the year. The historical events in Russia and the ban on Christmas celebration after the October revolution made the New Year's inherit the features of Christmas. But it still remained the non-religious holiday.
The news year's menu is traditionally the basic feature of New Year's celebration. Most Russians believe that the way you meet the New Year sets the tote for the whole of the year lying ahead. Thus the New Year menu is supposed to be rich and contain varies meals. It is believed to grant the well-being the next year.
Russian New Year's menu did not really exist till the middle of the 19th century. The meals that are traditionally considered to be the part of New Year's menu were originally prepared for Christmas celebration. The beginning of the 19trh century witnessed quite simple cuisine: even in noble families they served pickled cucumbers and mushrooms and radish salad as a part of New Year's menu. It also included roast piglet, fricandeau, fried Poularde, trout boiled in wine, cream soup with ruffs (tel'noe iz ershej"). By the way the fruit, like apricots, oranges, grapes, peas were also available, as there was a fashion for green houses in Moscow and St-Petersburg where and fruit grew in winter successfully.
Close to the end of the 19th century, the New Years menu included salmon, tittlebat and vendace. Different sorts of cheese appeared. Trout and watermelons gained popularity and the poultry successfully competed with roast piglet on the New Years table. This was the time for various beverages, ice-cream and cognacs. At the end of the 19th century and beginning the 20th Russians became widely acquainted with French, Spanish, Italian and German wines and managed to imitate champagne with Don sparkling wines. They surely did not miss vodka, home wine and liqueurs, home-brew and German beer. Such exotic food as sardine, lobsters, anchovy appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. Roast goose stuffed with apples was a must, yet turkey and hazel grouse sometimes replaced it the New Year's menu
October Revolution, poor and hungry after revolution years, the ban on the Christmas and New Year's celebration all factually froze the holiday tradition. New Years was celebrated quietly in apartments with not much variety in the menu. The "table tradition" (Russian habit to celebrate the New Year's Eve at the holiday table) might have had its roots from that time - one had to make the celebration quiet due to the official ban on the holiday
Rehabilitated in 1936 the new Year's celebration did not get much development on the menu. The country was in war and vodka, mashed potato and picked herrings, garnished with sliced onion was everything one had for a holiday.
The menu improved in the 50th and New Year's celebration was no longer obnoxious behaviour so Russians could not only stay at home for a celebration, but go out and invite gests. This was the time for famous Seld' Pod Shuboj (classical Russian cold meal cooked by arranging chopped pickled herring, boiled eggs and boiled chopped or grated potatoes, beetroot and carrots in layers and dressing with mayonnaise), broth jelly, and Baltic canned sprats, a real delicatessen of the Soviet times. This was the time when Olivie salad (a mixture of boiled chopped potatoes, eggs, pickles, canned green peas and chopped boiled meat or sausage dressed with mayonnaise or cream) enjoyed its popularity. However it was cooked with "Doktorskaya" sausage instead of hazel grouse meat. The salad cooked in a great abundance in a big bowl and dressed with mayonnaise. A bottle of "Sovetskoe shampanskoe" (Soviet champagne) was the eternal attribute of the holiday.
The life's been is changing as well as Russian cooking and eating traditions. Christmas is celebrated again now along with the New Years, Russians adopt traditions of other nations' cuisine and Olivie and "Shuba" may not be the top meals on the table as before. Cold meat and fish starters are usually a must for the Russian holiday table, various salads, dressed either with cream, mayonnaise or olive oil are very popular as well. Hot meat melas like roast goose or turkey, stuffed with apples, buckwheat or sauerkraut remains traditional New Year's meal in many Russian families. Russian New Year's menu has always been famous for various pickles and marinated vegetable and mushrooms. Mushroom picking and further cooking and/or preserving in various ways in almost a national hobby of Russians. Many like to satisfy the animal -symbol of the coming year according to the eastern calendar and arrange the New Year's table the way to please it.
In general Russian holiday table for the New Years is rich with fatty food. Champagne is a main drink, competing popularity with vodka, and numerous sweet cakes, pies and chocolate and fruit are served for a desert.
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