No other day induces the same carnivalesque frenzy as the Russian New Year, which blends the traditions of Christmas and New Year with maudlin Soviet nostalgia. It is the most awaited, beautiful, and fabulous holiday. If you’ve already had the chance to be in Russia around this time, you know how special it is: everything around is soaked with magic and feels like a fairy tale. And if you’ve always wondered – here’s a sneak peek of Russia’s most beloved night.

New Year’s preparation

Let the preparation for the most important night of the year begin! If you’re lucky your late morning smoothly transitions into the hustle and bustle of New Year’s Eve, and if you’re not – then this day feels like a speed race with a very tempting prize – having a cat-like lifestyle for up to ten days straight (not bad, right?) before getting back to work or school.

Your place is spotless and decorated with a beautiful fir tree (the guest of honor), shimmering lights, and tinsel, and the symbol of the year is in its rightful place. The carefully wrapped gifts are hidden under the tree (brought by Ded Moroz – the Russian version of Santa) and are lying in wait to bring joy and happiness to you and the people close to your heart after midnight. Some last-minute holiday shopping may take place, while you’re making traditional foods – Olivier salad, dressed herring, red caviar sandwiches, etc. – to the sound of The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! or other well-known and beloved Soviet holiday movies because it’s not the New Year’s without that bottle of champagne and mandarins. 

Finishing touches

It’s getting closer to midnight, and it’s time to get yourself ready, put on the best outfit that screams New Year’s, set the holiday table, bring in the delicious foods and drinks in your finest china, turn on the colored lights and let the tree shine – and don’t forget to light some candles (this is a secret tool you’ll need later). The finishing touches were put on everything. Now you can dress up, turn the light off, sit at the table, and watch the TV.

Magical moments

You’re just a few moments away from the New Year’s holiday bells and you all feel the excitement, you look back at 2020 with all the good and the bad, and tune in the TV to hear the President’s speech and the clock to announce the arrival of the long-awaited new year. Do you remember the midnight’s magic?

Five – open that bottle of champagne

Four – pour your glasses

Three – get ready for some noise (fireworks)

Two – feel the excitement

One…. make your wish and get loud!

C Новым Годом! 

Credit: Ludmila Kuznetsova (@kuzmila) on

Credit: Ludmila Kuznetsova (@kuzmila) on

Now you can indulge yourself in all these delicious meals and have lively talks, congratulate your family and friends via phone or online (together with millions of other people doing the same), and let the party begin – exchanging gifts, watching anything from the music of the 90s to the one and only The Little Blue Light, and dancing.

Then you can take your party outside to build some snowmen (snow is intended in this story), light firecrackers, or watch the night sky lit up with bright, colorful flashes, and have festivities till the morning.

The next morning and holidays

Credit: Hert Niks (@hertwashere) on

Credit: Hert Niks (@hertwashere) on

January 1 is a legendary day when you wake up in the evening to see no people outside and eat last year's (haha) salads for breakfast. It’s also the start of a long marathon of visits to other family members and friends, movie nights, getaways, and many more. Take that time to have some fun, recharge, and do the things you usually have no time for.

The Old New Year’s

But that’s not it – if you don’t want the holidays to stop, you can also celebrate the Old New Year’s on January 13 like many Russians. Usually not as fancy as the New Year’s, for many, this is a nostalgic family holiday ending the New Year festivities (which includes Eastern Orthodox Christmas on January 7) with a traditional holiday feast, singing, and dancing. This is a nice bonus!

New Year’s is just around the corner, and it’s high time to check our New Year and holiday stories to get in the festive mood and feel the excitement for the holiday. Enjoy the last few days of 2020 and с наступающим!