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Happy Old New Year!
December 20, 2007 17:39


Sounds strange, doesn't it? For Russia it is quite OK.

Comrade Lenin had no idea of the present he was giving to many generation ahead, when signing the decree “On introducing the West European calendar in the Republic of Russia” on January 24, 1918. He presented the Russians with the unique holiday of the Old New Year! How naive he was supposing that we would celebrate the New Year like all the rest, only by the Gregorian calendar! The Russians still meet the New Year twice: in the new and the old (Julian) style, the latter date falling on January 13 to 14.

So, what does this enigmatic and inexplicable to foreigners notion “Old New Year” harbour? The holiday is interesting for combining circular traditions of meeting the New Year with the Christian Orthodox Christmastide customs. It is very convenient: following the circular traditions, on the Old New Year’s Eve TV broadcasts once again all the New Year’s programs, concerts and films, and one does not need to buy another fir-tree – the old one will do fine.

Old New Year’s Fortune-Telling and Carol-Singing

The most popular customs of Christmastide, which coincides with the Old New Year, are fortune-telling and kolyadki (carol-singing). Divination is special on the Old New Year’s Eve. Almost everybody did it in olden days: the elderly people wanted to know about life, girls and boys about their intended, mothers about health and fortune of their children, and thrifty managers about business success.

The most common divination about future life was the one with spoons: the spoons are left on the table when everyone goes to bed. Everyone remembers his spoon and in the morning finds out how it lies: if it is just the way you put it before, everything will be fine, but if the spoon has somehow turned upside down, you should take care of your health and guard yourself against troubles.

One of the Old New Year’s divinations about getting married is to overhear conversations at somebody’s doors: if a girl hears “go” she will soon be married, and if it happens to be “sit”, she will have to wait longer for her intended to arrive.

Actually, there were a great number of divination ways and methods, yet the majority of them have been forgotten.

As for kolyadki (carol-singing) this tradition is just perfect for those who overspent during the New Year festivities and yet wants to have various dainties on the table for the Old New Year too! Put on a sheepskin coat turned inside out, put on a garish makeup or a terrifying mask, take a big sack, and - ahead! Do not forget to learn beforehand several verses about kolyada, something like: “Kolyada is at your door, open to me the door!”, “If you do not give a cake, you will catch it in the neck!” and so on - use your fancy. The verses must be sung loudly, merrily and vigorously at the doors of people you know and do not know until they put something tasty into your enormous sack. Just watch them not to throw salad there – it will be inconvenient to take it out. It goes without saying you’d better have your jolly crowd with you, to make the process funny and efficient! When singing and terrifying your neighbors is over, bring the sack home, lay everything out of it onto the table and eat it!

Speaking about the Old New Year, the feast must be not inferior to that of the “first” New Year. Naturally, there should be a variety of basins with salads, some bird or beast baked whole in the oven, and, obligatorily, a huge meat or fish pie. While cooking it, the hostess must put a clove of garlic inside: the one, who happens to eat it, will be lucky and happy in the coming year.


Tags: Russian Holidays Russian Traditions New Year Russian Winter  

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