how russians celebrate the new year

russian food

This is a guest post from my wife, Bubelah, originally posted on another blog.  I’ve reprinted it here, although I’ve taken out some of her commentary and added my own – so by this point it’s a “joint” post.  But it’s still written as if she wrote it?  Confused? Forget it, read on…

New Year’s Celebration is a big holiday for a Russian family; in our family the holiday is accompanied by lots of traditional foods, vodka, cognac and champagne drinking. I call it the “New Year Russian Style.” For Russians, the New Year’s Eve celebration is bigger than Christmas or any other holiday or all of them combined together. It arose during the secular regime of the former USSR.  The celebration lasts all night and spills over to the next day. The preparations for the celebration of the New Year are as busy as for Christmas in the western world.

Before moving from New Jersey to Florida, we usually were the hosts for my family. But since we moved, we’ll be visiting my sister’s house in Long Island and celebrating there.  One thing that won’t change, though, is the elaborate menu.

The “Russian table” is an overwhelming experience if you haven’t eaten it before.  Dishes begin with cold foods and zakuski (appetizers) and course after course is added throughout the night.  Alcohol flows freely.  The highlight of the evening will usually be a large meat dish; in our family this is usually a dish called shashlik, which is the rough equivalent of shish-kabobs.  By the time it arrives, dozens of plates of food will be crammed onto every square inch of the table; the idea is that your New Year’s table should be full and abundant to invite an abundant year into your lives.

Father Frost (in the form of my husband Steve, wearing a costume) will visit us with a big bag full of presents. Presents don’t have to be anything big.    If you know a person you can tell what they like the most. And I know that my husband loves to drink coffee all day long – you can guess what he is getting for New Year’s.

But the real magic of the holidays is about festivities, food, laughter and drunken dancing on the table with your family. Have a healthy and abundant 2011!

photo  Attribution Some rights reserved by mathiasbaert

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