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"Old New Year" Traditions in Russia and Ukraine

11. January 2011 by Michelle 0 Comments

In most countries of the Former Soviet Union, holiday revelers celebrate New Year’s Eve on both December 31st and January 13th, in accordance with the Gregorian and Julian calendars. While many Russian and Ukrainian women gather with family and friends to feast and drink champagne, while listening to the President's speech, followed by watching fireworks, some may practice these ancient traditions as well.


One old custom was to keep a journal from New Year’s Day (January 1st) to the Old New Year (January 13th) and write down details about the weather, your mood, and any incidents that occurred each day. It was believed this practice predicted how the next 12 months of the year would turn out.


Before the champagne toast at midnight, while the clock is counting down, Russians would write their wishes on small pieces of paper with pencil, stir them into their champagne glasses, and drink so their wishes would come true.


Another New Year’s Eve custom was to freeze water in a spoon outside in the frigid weather. If the ice contained bubbles, it predicted good health and longevity for the coming year. If there were no bubbles, they believed someone would become sick or die.


Russian women would often practice romantic rituals on New Year’s Eve, such as putting a piece of food from their festive dinner feast underneath their pillow before they went to sleep. The ladies would pray that their soul mates would come and try the treats and then they would see the gentlemen in their dreams.


On the first day of the New Year, revelers continue to celebrate by visiting with friends and family. Another old tradition is that women would wear brand new outfits at the start of New Year’s Day, changing clothes every half hour, in order to bring new things all throughout the coming year. Men are advised not to pay any bills that day or they will have even more bills to pay in the following months!


Remember to congratulate your favorite Russian brides on the New Year! S Novym Godom!