The New Year is right around the corner, and it may be a good time to start thinking about how to celebrate it. We’re finally leaving 2020 behind (*sighs with relief*) and stepping into a new year with our hopes up (or not). Well, for what it’s worth, 2021 could really use some good vibes (like, who couldn’t?), and luckily, there’s a fair share of Russian myths and superstitions – weird and otherwise – to bring in some magic.
In Russia, we say Как встретишь новый год, так его и проведешь (How you spend New Year’s Night is how you will live the whole year). It’s a good old tradition, the motto of the main holiday in Russia, which means that this night determines your whole year (not in a Groundhog Day way though). So, you should wisely choose what you’re going to do and who you’re going to celebrate this holiday with unless you’re ready to turn your new year into a rollercoaster of unpleasant events and stick to people you barely know.
Russians are very serious about New Year, and you can sense the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday already in early December – cue pre-holiday shopping for gifts, decorations, clothes, and then food. And when the day’s finally here, you’ve prepared a holiday feast – from the olivier salad and hot potatoes with meat to red caviar sandwiches – you wear your best outfit, and you’re happy and merry with those dear to your heart (no less). And, of course, there is a beautiful fir tree decorated with shimmering lights and tinsel, and many big and small gifts underneath it that you’re not allowed to touch until midnight (ouch!). If you have all this, the new year will be a good one for you – it will bring you prosperity, well-being, happiness, and love – well, at least that’s what the superstition says, but ain’t no harm in trying.
The symbol of the year
You’ve probably noticed a whole lot of oxen, bulls, and cows everywhere – printed T-shirts and sweatshirts, cups, stuffed animals, and tiny souvenirs – and there’s a good reason for that. 2021 is the year of the White Metal Ox, but what does it actually mean?
For some reason, Russians have no problem adopting the Chinese year symbols, and the custom is very popular here. There are 12 Chinese zodiac animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. They’re believed to have certain features that say a lot about the year and the people born in it.
These zodiacs are also very picky about what they like, for example, in terms of colors – as you can see, white will be your best option this New Year. You should also have the symbol in your house and on your table – ox candles, figurines, or stuffed animals. And it’s never a good idea to have the symbol of the year for your holiday feast (well, Dragon may be a bit of a challenge here, but anyway).
You should keep all that in mind! Cooking beef or veal and wearing red is definitely a no-go for this night at least.
The magic of midnight
It’s close to midnight and you can feel the excitement in the air – we’re just a few minutes away from the traditional midnight date with the President and the New Year’s bells. But hurry up, the magic is on, and it’s high time to make our wishes.
But first, we have to say goodbye to the old year (I guess it won’t be that hard) – it’s good to discuss the year that’s ending and revisit its best moments (if any), as well as to wish each other good luck and new achievements in the coming year. As the clock starts striking midnight, open that bottle of champagne (preferably, with the first strike) and think about your wish. To make sure that your wish comes true, write it down on a scrap of paper, burn it, throw the ashes into your champagne glass, clink glasses as the clock strikes 12, and drink it. Then, make some noise, light some sparklers, and you’re ready to go. May 2021 be an extraordinary year!
But that’s not it, we are far from it! For more festive vibes, check out our recent stories on holiday decorations, getting into the festive spirit, celebrating with the world, as well as the New Year series.