New Year in Russia

1:37 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory /

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,