You might be surprised how different Russian and American holiday traditions, especially when it comes to winter holidays. I was born and raised in Russia where we celebrate New Years as the biggest holiday of the year. Even though I am Americanized now, some of the Russian traditions make me feel very nostalgic. I do enjoy the process of putting together a typical New Year’s table and celebrating until the late night or even morning. I was thinking that it might be interesting for you to learn some of the Russian traditions. Today I am sharing samples of Papyrus holiday card collection (c/o) and explain how Russians celebrate winter holidays.
1. Russians do not celebrate Christmas, all the fun stuff with a holiday tree and presents is happening at the New Year’s Eve. People are usually getting together around 9:00 pm and continue celebrating until the morning.
2. Russian people do not send holiday cards to each other. That’s right—they just call each other before or right after the New Year’s Eve and that is it. When I came to the United States, I didn’t know the Americans are sending each other personalized cards. It thought it was such a sweet tradition and I am a regular card sender myself. I usually send photo cards to family members and luxury cards by Papyrus to my colleagues or business contacts.
3. There is a Russian version of Santa Clause called Ded Moroz (in translation, ‘Granddad Freeze’). Both holiday gift givers are wearing the same outfit and a beard, but they have different personalities. If Santa is a clumsy fellow, Ded Moroz is a strict and serious character whom you should beg for presents. Every Russian child knows that you better have a song, a poem, or a dance ready for the winter holidays to earn a gift from a Russian ‘Santa.’
4. At the New Year’s Eve people usually turn their TVs on and watch the President’s speech to the nation. After that, Russians will drink champagne, exchange the gifts, eat delicious food cooked hours in advance, and celebrate until the morning.
5. For Russians, New Years is not about a family gathering, it’s a national marathon of parties, special events, and celebration. Most of the people are not working from December 31st to January 10th and spend that time going to vacation, enjoying outdoors activities, and attending all sorts of events.
6. The most important day during that festive period is New Years Eve. People are getting ready way ahead of time: food (so much food that some people manage to eat leftovers until January 10th), presents, festive outfits, drinks, a holiday tree. Russians do decorate a Christmas tree, but it’s called a New Year’s Tree.
7. There is a whole thing about horoscopes that starts to pop up closer to the end of the year. For Russians, it’s important to know what is a symbolic animal for the upcoming year. Russian women always make sure that their festive outfit comes in the appropriate for the upcoming year color. Fashion magazines publish the list of outfit recommendations for each horoscope sign.
8. There is no such a thing as Santa’s helpers or deer. The entire staff of Ded Moroz team is his blond grand daughter, Snegurochka (in translation, a ‘girl made out of snow’). This lovely lady has a specific outfit that requires a white and blue faux fur jacket and a matching hat.
9. There is much more Ded Morozes and Snegurochkas than Santas. Every holiday party, whether it’s a corporate event or a school celebration, requires this couple. You can always find actors or acting students that are willing to perform at the party.
10. Russians buy a holiday tree on December 26 because these are less expensive after Christmas. By the way, Russians keep their evergreens in the house until January 14th when they celebrate a New Year’s based on a Gregorian calendar (it’s called Old New Year’s).
What are some of the winter holidays traditions that you enjoy the most?