29 December 2006

SNovim Godom

One of the boards I'm on asked for some more information about New Year's celebrations, particularly Dyed Moros. I thought some of you might find it interesting, too. (I'm hoping my friend Dawn, whom I'm not sure would appreciate being linked but I'll do it if she wants, will chime in here with her experiences living in Kyiv, Ukraine.)

So, we remember that the communists basically did away with Christmas and moved the celebration (tree, fireworks, Dyed Moros) to the non-religious holiday of New Year's. New Year's remains the big holiday in Russia.

Dyed Moros comes on New Year's Eve. He comes while the children are awake (parents arrange for someone to play Dyed Moros and give him the gift intended for the child/ren). After the child/ren recite and sing for him, Dyed Moros gives them their present.

[Dyed Moros came to our class at school. The children had to perform for him (they sang a song in Russian and a song in English), they joined hands and sang and danced in a circle (There is even a Russian word that means "to join hands and dance in a circle around the tree". My Russian teacher was not impressed that we didn't have a word for it in English. Somehow "encircle" didn't do it for her.). He asked if they had been good and then gave everyone an ice cream.]

Dyed Moros (and Putin's speech, special foods, etc.) all take place on the night of 31 December. They start eating at 11:00 p.m. to say goodbye to the old year, raise a toast beginning at the first stroke of midnight (after Putin's speech) while standing. Standing is very important but I don't know why. Then, they feast the rest of the night to welcome the new year.

My Russian friends are really looking forward to eating "holodyets"...which Dawn affectionately refers to as meat jello. It's layers of meat and veg in a garlic flavored gelatin. Marina likes to eat it over boiled potatoes. It's a BIG treat. Marina was telling me about how when she was little and lived in the village she would wake up FREEZING on the 31st because her mom had all the windows open to set the holodyets.

There are lots of "pies" eaten, too. They aren't made with pie crust, but with a sweet bread dough. They are filled with savory things like cabbage, chicken, meat or fish, or with sweet things like berries. (Chicken and rice is my favourite.)

Champagne and kissing at midnight! There are lots of fireworks (they've been going off for weeks now), too.

I'm not sure what I'll do for New Year's. Most of my friends are away--either in their homecountries or away at their dachas. A friend from the US will be coming back that night. There's a big party in Palace Square, but I've been advised to stay away. We'll see. I'm not really bothered. New Year's isn't really my holiday. Still, I'm looking forward to big events in 2007!

If I come across other interesting New Year's tidbits, I'll let you know.

1 comment:

Lea said...

Hi Kate. Lea here. Do you know if the Christmas decorations will still be up when we arrive on Jan. 11? I am so hoping to see them.
You're life in Russia is very interesting. You must be fairly easy going to tolerate some of the inconveniences. Do you know how long you plan to stay?