Orthodox Christmas Day and New Year Celebration in Soviet Union (Russia)
Christmas is mainly a religious event in Russia.
On Christmas Eve (6 January), there are several long services, including the Royal Hours and Vespers combined with the Divine Liturgy.
The family will then return home for the traditional Christmas Eve “Holy Supper”, which consists of 12 dishes, one to honor each of the Twelve Apostles. Devout families will then return to church for the “всенощная” All Night Vigil. Then again, on Christmas Morning, for the “заутренняя” Divine Liturgy of the Nativity.
Russian Holiday tradition includes a decorated New Year’s tree – ёлка* (fir tree).
Children always wait for Дед Mopoз (Grandfather Frost), to come and bring them a present. Grandfather Frost’s residence is situated in Velikii Ustug, the town on the north of Russia. Grandfather Frost is always accompanied by his granddaughter Снегурочка (Snowmaiden) who helps him distribute the gifts. For the Russians, the New Year is a family holiday; people think about friends and relatives. But young people prefer to have the New Year parties of their own.
Don’t be surprised, but at midnight on the 13d of January people in Russia celebrate Old New Year that corresponds to January 7th in the Julian calendar, used in Russia before 1918.
After the Revolution that took place in 1917 year religion was called as “opium for people” and Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations.
So celebrating New Year became a sort of “replacement” for it. Only after 75 years, in 1992, Christmas became openly observed.
Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th, in accordance with the old Julian calendar. A lot of people go to church services on that day. On the Eve of Christmas, it is traditional for all family members to gather.
Popular terms in Russian:
ёлка (fir tree) is pronounced as “YOL-ka”
Дед Mopoз (Grandfather Frost) is pronounced as “deht ma-ROHS”
Снегурочка (Snowmaiden) is pronounced as “snee-GOO-rahch-ka”
New Year: December 31st – January 1st
Christmas: January 6th – January 7th
Old Russian New Year: January 13d – January 14th
New Year songs: “Yolochka” and “V lesu rodilas’ yolochka” are given in Cyrillic and transliteration, “Jingle Bells” is available in English original, in Russian translation and transliterated.
В лесу родилась ёлочка
В лесу родилась ёлочка,
Бубенчики (Jingle Bells)
Блещет яркий снег,
Словно ветер, сани мчат,
Звенит веселый смех
С бубенчиками в лад.На санках расписных
Прокатиться каждый рад,
И льется наша песня
С бубенчиками в лад.Динь-динь-дон,
Льется чудный звон,
Слышен смех со всех сторон,
Сани мчатся под уклон.
перевод Ю. Хазанова
Dashing through the snow,
In a one-horse open sleigh,
And o’ver the fields we go,
Laughing all the way.The bells on bob-tail ring,
Making spirits brights,
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight.Jingle bells,
Jingle all the way,
Oh, what fun it is to ride
Traditional Russian New Year Cuisine.
Russian cuisine is a collection of the different cooking traditions of the Russian people. The cuisine is diverse, as Russia is by area the largest country in the world.
Russian cuisine derives its varied character from the vast and multi-cultural expanse of Russia. Moreover, it is necessary to divide Russian traditional cuisine and Soviet cuisine, which has its own peculiarity. Its foundations were laid by the peasant food of the rural population in an often harsh climate, with a combination of plentiful fish, pork, poultry, caviar, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, barley and millet provided the ingredients for a plethora of breads, pancakes, pies, cereals, beer and vodka. Soups and stews full of flavor are centered on seasonal or storable produce, fish and meats. This wholly native food remained the staple for the vast majority of Russians well into the 20th century.
Russia’s great expansions of culture, influence, and interest during the 16th–18th centuries brought more refined foods and culinary techniques, as well as one of the most refined food countries in the world. It was during this period that smoked meats and fish, pastry cooking, salads and green vegetables, chocolate, ice cream, wines, and juice were imported from abroad. At least for the urban aristocracy and provincial gentry, this opened the doors for the creative integration of these new foodstuffs with traditional Russian dishes. The result is extremely varied in technique, seasoning, and combination.
Principal dishes on the Christmas table in old Russia included a variety of pork (roasted pig), stuffed pig’s head, roasted meat chunks, jelly, and aspic. Christmas dinner also included many other meats: goose with apples, sour cream hare, venison, lamb, whole fish, etc.
The abundance of lumpy fried and baked meats, whole baked chicken, and fish on the festive table was associated with features of the Russian furnace, which allowed successful preparation of large portions.
Finely sliced meat and pork was cooked in pots with semi-traditional porridge. Pies were indispensable dishes for Christmas, as well as other holidays, and included both closed and open style pies, as well as cheesecake, rolls, cakes, balls, Kurnik, boats, saechki, shangi, cooked casseroles, and pancakes. Fillings of every flavor were included (herbal, vegetable, fruit, mushrooms, meat, fish, cheese, mixed).
Sweet dishes served on the Russian Christmas table included berries, fruit, candy, cakes, firewood, biscuits, honey. Beverages included drinking broths (compote and sweet soups, sbiten), jelly, and, from the beginning of the 18th century, Chinese tea.