The most favourite New Year film

12:01 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory / comments (2)

The essential part of New Year in Russia is a film «Irony of Fate» directed by Eldar Ryazanov. It was shot in 1975 and is shown every single New Year's Eve. Many phrases from the film have become catch phrases in Russian. The term «Irony of Fate» relates to the analogy of gods playing with the mortals. The second title that adds with an "or", "S lyokhkim parom!" (literally something like "I congratulate you for the light steam") is an idiomatical phrase to compliment somebody who has just come out of the shower, the banya or the bathtub ("lyokhkij par" translates to "light steam"). The plot is closely connected with the peculiarity of Brezhnev era architecture. The matter is that the buildings being built in this period were identical and a man could easily mix up his own flat with his neighbour's one.
The story is very interesting, unusual and comic. At first it seems to the audience that it's just a show and nothing more but if you imagine Russia of those years you can easily realize that the story could really happen:

Some friends meet at a Moscow's banya to celebrate New Year's Eve (we call it Novy God). All of them get very drunk, and two of them, including the main character, Zhenya pass out. The others forget which of their unconscious friends was meant to be catching a plane to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), and so Zhenya is put on the plane by accident instead of his friend. He wakes up at Leningrad airport, believing he is still in Moscow. He gets into a taxi and gives the driver his address. It turns out that there exists a street in Leningrad with the same name, and a building which looks exactly like Zhenya's. The key fits in the door of the apartment, and even the layout of the apartment is the same. Zhenya is too drunk to notice any difference, and goes to sleep. Later, Nadya, who lives in the apartment, comes home and finds a man she's never met before asleep in her bed. To make things worse, Nadya's fiance Ippolit, arrives before Nadya can convince Zhenya to wake up and leave. Zhenya desperately tries to get back to Moscow in time to spend New Year's Eve with his fiance Galya, and Nadya wants to get him out as fast as possible, but unfortunately there are no flights to Moscow for some time. The plot starts out as a comedy, but becomes more dramatic as it evolves around the relationship of Nadya and Zhenya, along with their relationships with their fiancees. Initially Nadya and Zhenya dislike each other intensely, but they eventually fall in love during the course of the movie. An important note about the coincidence with the addresses: many street names are/were common to Soviet and now Russian cities (for example, Sotsialisticheskaya, Lenin Street, etc.). Many houses look identical, and even apartments look very much the same from the inside. Thus, e.g. nobody has to ask for directions to the toilet, because the toilet is always next to the kitchen, and knives are always in the same drawer in the same cupboard that was built in all apartments of a certain type. The matching key is probably a joke by the film makers, though many Soviet locks look very much the same. The epoch distinguished by the shortage of goods, that's why you could always see the same glasses, the same furniture in every flat.
It's difficult to believe but you don't get tired of seeing this film again and again. I can't imagine the typical day of December 31st without it. There are films that are eternal. «Irony of Fate» is one of them.


New Year's Eve

6:29 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory / comments (0)

The only Slavic holiday which has been celebrated by all the Slavic countries was New Year.
The legend says that once upon a time the God of sharp frost Morok wandered about the villages, sending severe cold. The villagers, trying to save themselves from the frost, put the presents on a window-sill: pancakes, kissel, cookies, boiled rice with raising and honey. Now the God Morok turned to be a kind Father Frost (the Russians call him Granddad Moroz), who makes presents. This image was created not long time ago, in the middle of the 19th century.
The cycle of New Year ceremonies started with singing the songs about the past and ended with fortune-telling.

There are lots of tokens belonging to the holiday of New Year:

  • Wearing new clothes on New Year's Eve means buying new clothes the whole year long.

  • You mustn't lend money before the new year, otherwise you will lose money.

  • You mustn't borrow money as it means that you'll be in debts next year.

  • Before the new year the Slavs threw away broken plates and dishes, washed windows and mirrors.

You must forgive offenders, give back your debts, avoid quarrelling. The evening before New Year was called a generous one. Laying a rich table meant wealth for the next year. In the middle of the table there was usually a two-weeks-old broiled sucking pig which symbolised beauty.
At the beginning of the 20th century people began to bake cookies in the form of different animals: horses, cows, pigs, etc. When their guests came in, they presented the cookies to them.
After the revolution of 1917 the holiday of New Year was abolished but people celebrated it secretly. It might create a tradition of celebrating the holiday at table. Since then New Year is considered to be a family and home holiday.
When the table is laid, people switch up a TV-set – an invariable participant of this night. Directly at 23:55 we are listening to the head of state making a speech, summing up and congratulating the citizens. At the moment when the clock on the Spasskaya tower are beating, you must think a wish and it will come true for sure. There is a contradictory tradition which is followed by some people (I know it for sure): During the beating of the clock at 00:00 you must have time to write down a wish, light up a paper with your wish and when it is burnt, you must throw it to the glass of champagne and drink it. I tried it several times but failed to do it – it's difficult to do within a minute.
(To be continued...)

(pictures from,


New Year in Russia

1:37 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory / comments (0)

New Year is coming... There are only ten days left. People, as busy as a bee, are fussing around buying present for their relatives and friends. I like this time here in Russia. Thinking about the starting post in my blog, I couldn't help writing about the way how we celebrate one of the best, warmest, one of the most favourite holidays - the New Year!

History of the New Year holiday in Russia

Up to the 15th century the New Year had been celebrated on the 1st of March (according to the Julian calendar). In 1492 the great prince John the Third confirmed the 1st of September to be the first day of a new year, because it was the date of taking the tributes, taxes and dues. To make this day more significant the Tsar himself was coming to the Kremlin and every man, a commoner or a noble boyar, could come up to him and ask for justice or mercy. The prototype of the church ceremony comes from Byzantium.
One of the foreign contemporary describes the enchanting sight, which he saw in 1636:
"In the courtroom there were more than 20 thousand people of all the ages. A patriarch with his priesthood, consisting of 200 men, came out of the church
[Uspensky cathedral], standing from the right of the entry to the square. Everybody wore canonicals with lots of icons, opened books in hands."
At the end of 1699 Peter the Great issued an edict to celebrate the New Year on the 1st of January. The date also coincided with Julian calendar but differed in styles. A fir-tree became a symbol of this holiday a little bit later and was decorated first with wooden toys, nuts, fruit and sweets. Glass decorations became popular only in 1850.
In the 18th century almost all the European countries turned to the Gregorian calendar, while Russia lived according to the Julian calendar. Only in 1919 after the Great Revolution we accepted the Gregorian one. The celebration of this holiday was canceled and all the symbols belonging to the New Year were prohibited as "religious remnants". The 1st of January became a working day, but in 1937 the tradition came back and this day was declared a holiday.
Since 1947 the way of celebrating and all the symbols remain unchangeable.
In 2005 the period from the 1st to the 5th of January is considered New Year's vacation. We don't work, have fun and enjoy the holidays.
(pictures are taken from,


A few words about the post.

1:50 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory / comments (1)

This is going to be a blog about Russia, a great country I live in.

Since ancient times it attracted foreigners from all over the world. Every inch of it is full of mystery. Mentality of the Russian and their enigmatic soul are tried to be solved, but all the efforts fail when you come across with the originality and illogicality of the country and its people.
I hope you will discover Russia to yourself and
will fall in love with it as it is worth feeling.

(pictures are taken from