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The New Year.

How we celebrate the New Year's.

Russian New Year's menu

Russian girls New Years Eve

The New Year is the main winter holiday for most Russians and probably the main and most desirable holiday of the year. It is waited with anticiation for long time before an is well-prepared for. Like in any country it is time to estimate results of the passed year and make plans and wishes for the next one. The New Year is the time of hopes and longing for a miracle. That is why the most common greeting in Russia sounds like "Happy New Year, happy new happiness ".

Russia began celebrating the New Year as a separate holiday in 1700, when, on the order of Tsar Peter the Great, Russia started to count the new year as beginning in January rather than September, as had been done previously. At the same time, an order "about the celebration of the new year" was issued and people began a tradition of decorating their houses with pine boughs.

Still " yolka ", a decorated pine tree is essential for every New Year celebration. Almost any family, especially with children decorates the pine tree with colour glass balls, ribbons, bows and streamers several days before the New Year's and removes several days or even weeks after. Large decorated trees are also placed in the centers of the major cities, now also in the squares of micro districts of big cities and by major stores. Yolka is not only a part of the decorations, it is symbol of the New Year's, having a special sacred meaning for the children. This is because Grandfather Frost, Russian Santa, leaves the presents under it for the children to find them next morning. Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz) may seem to look like Santa Claus, however this is specifically Russian phenomenon.

Moroz (Morozko, Treskun, Studenets) is a character of numerous Russian legends and Slavic myths, depicted as a smith ice bonding lakes and rivers.

Other names of Father Frost are Saint Nicholas in Ukraine and Dzied Maroz in Belaris.

Originally Ded Moroz is a pagan divinity that takes over winter frost. Ancient Slavic tribes depicted him as a small old man with long grey beard. Winter cold is his breath, ice - his frozen words, winter clouds are his hair, and icicles - his tears. He is married to Winter herself and has numerous assistants - Marosses.

According to the fairy tales and legends Morozko dislikes people that complain on cold and snow yet gifts and supports merry and vigorous ones.

As a pagan god, Moroz was quite cruel; he used to freeze to death those who stayed in the forest. The modern image of Ded Moroz was suggested by Soviet cinema and folklore. This is now a kind old man in blue, white or red heel-long fur coat often decorated with embroidery and patterns and white welting. Russian Ded Moroz never wears a hood, his head is warmed up with Boyar hat. His clothes are different from one ones Santa is dressed up and are supposed to protect Ded Morox from severe Russian winters. Russian clothing traditions are obvious in his outfit. He always appears in Russian valenki. Ded Moroz is pictured as tall and massive man with a long gray beard. His image is noble and magnificent as he looks like a real master of the coming New Year. Russian Ded Moroz holds magical staff and travels on sleigh drawn by 3 horses (Russian troika) along with his granddaughter Snowgirl (Snegurochka) - also a collective image dating back to pagan tradition.

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Ded Moroz brings New Year gifts to children. He arrives in person unlike Santa that climbs in the chimney at night. Often kids dance around the tree, tell rhymes to Father Frost then receive their presents. Father Frost can however punish any evil-doer by freezing him.

Grand father frost is believed to live in the Russian town of Veliky Ustyug, that was proposed his official residence in 1998. 18 November is his official birthday of Ded Moroz that has been celebrated in Russia since 2005.

The most common food for the New Year table is Olivie salad, which is like mayonnaise-based collection of boiled and pickled vegetables, while the most common drink is champagne. Meat and potatoes remain the leading meal on the table. A great number of starters and sweet meals is also characteristic for a New Year's menu.

Even though New Year is celebrated differently nowadays, it traditionally remains a family holiday in Russia, when family gathers together, and the party lasts until the next morning. At about 11 or 11.30 people start to drink farewell to the passed year and get ready to meet the new one. After listening to the traditional New Year speech from the president, everybody tries to open a bottle of champagne and make a wish within the first seconds of the New Year. Soon after, many go outdoors to wish "Happy New Year" to one another, to launch New Year rockets and fireworks, and to light Bengal lights.

Of course, the main celebration takes place during the night from December 31st to January 1st, but many people continue visiting their friends and relatives with New Year greetings for several days or even weeks. It is also quite common to have a New Year party with colleagues from work several days before December 31st.

Some Russian beliefs about the New Year are that it is a bad sign to start a new year with debts and unfinished affairs.

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