Happy New Year!!! I ended up spending it with one of my friends at her flat with her mother and another one of her Russian friends. They had prepared a lot of delicious foods which were spread out on the table. Because 2009 is the Year of the Ox there wasn’t any meat on the table. So we ate fish, salads and fruits and drank champagne. We also watched TV because there were some New Years programs on. It actually wasn’t that different from New Years back home where we watch programs like New Years Rockin’ Eve. Only this time at midnight President Medvedev came on and gave a short speech. Then they showed Red Square and the clock struck twelve times at midnight. We made a wish at midnight and then drank champagne to make the wish come true. After that there were more shows with singing, dancing and some comedy. Although the traditions were similar (watching TV, eating, drinking champagne, making a wish), it still felt a bit strange not to see the ball drop or have a countdown. But I think I could get used to it!
My superstitions about New Years will hopefully ring true as I’d love to be in Russia among wonderful people all next year. Also my first words after midnight were in Russian so a year of success with languages (especially Russian) is hopefully in store as well!
After celebrating with my friend and her family, we met up with some other friends and went to another flat to have another celebration. I’d always heard that New Years is a much bigger holiday than Christmas is Russia and tonight I saw the truth in this for myself. As we walked we saw so many people outside, drinking and celebrating, and there were a lot of fireworks. When we stepped outside the smell of gunpowder in the air was so rich and the excitement was palpable.
Apparently a Russian New Year celebration also consists of going from party to party and eating, eating, and more eating, accompanied of course with drinking. So we went to another flat and there was a massive spread of food. All of it was very delicious but after several hours I couldn’t eat any more. I don’t know how the Russians do it. Even with all the liquor we consumed, I couldn’t eat as much as everyone around me. The night wore on with more eating, drinking, chatting, watching TV and listening to music. By about 8.00am, we headed home.
Another difference between American and Russian New Year celebrations is that Russians often give gifts at this time while we give them at Christmas. So I received some small gifts from my friend: a calendar and a book in Russian which I can’t wait to read. I think we started off the New Year right and I’m happy to have been able to experience a Russian New Year celebration firsthand.