For most people in the world, Christmas is the biggest holiday in winter, but things are different in Russa and most other former member states of the Soviet Union. In Russia, New Year is the most significant winter holiday and it’s celebrated with gifts, champagne, fireworks and large parties. Keep reading to find everything you should do in Saint Petersburg this New Year to celebrate it like a true Russian.
Check out holiday decorations in Russia
Russians love holiday decorations just as much as Americans and Europeans do, so don’t miss out on taking a stroll through the streets of whatever city you’re visiting to enjoy the lights and displays. Usually, the city puts the most elaborate decoration on its main streets and there’s always an ornately decorated Christmas Tree in the city’s main square. Visit Moscow and St. Petersburg to see the best decorations, but even if you’re spending New Year in a smaller city, you will still be stunned by the displays.
Try traditional Russian New Year dishes
Food is a huge part of Russian culture, and New Year is one of the biggest holidays of the year when it comes to cooking and serving a delicious feast for all the friends and family. You can find a local restaurant that serves holiday food around New Year, but you should try to find a Russian family who will invite you over for New Year if you want to experience a true Russian holiday. In Russia, it’s not a holiday without Olivie and shuba salads!
Watch the president’s speech right on New Year night
In Russia and many other former Soviet Union countries, the president of the country gives a speech every year right before New Year. The speech usually starts just a few minutes before the clock strikes 12 and nearly every person in the country turns on the TV to watch the speech. In the speech, the president talks about the past year and looks forward to the next. Once the speech finishes, the countdown to New Year begins.
Make a wish and enjoy the fireworks
Once the clock strikes 12 and the new year begins, it is common for Russians to make a wish at that moment. Some people even prefer to write down their wish on a piece of paper, burn it and put the ash in a glass of champagne and drink it just as the old year ends and the new one begins! Once the new year starts, you will hear dozens of fireworks going off everywhere, people popping champagne and calling their relatives to congratulate them.
Give presents and get ready to party all night
After the bells ring, you might be getting ready to turn in and go to bed, but don’t rush – in Russia, at midnight the party only begins. Once the clock strikes 12, people exchange their gifts (since this celebration is more significant than Christmas) and start eating all the dishes they’ve prepared. The party generally goes all night long or until the early hours of the morning, so get ready to party!