Russian New Year is Coming to Town!
Ded Moroz, Snegurochka, Yolka – those words are familiar to every Russian and are part of the New Year’s celebrations – the biggest holiday every year. It is not a holiday for the kids only but for people of all ages.
1)Дед Мороз (Grandfather Frost) comes to Russian children around the New Year’s Eve and bring presents. To know more about Grandfather Frost read this post. He usually leaves his house some time in December before the New Year’s and visits celebrations, comes to the children’s houses, schools, daycares. The children look forward to talking to him and his granddaughter the Snow Maiden.
2) Снегурочка (The Snow Maiden) – Grandfather Frost usually does not come alone, but he brings his helper – his granddaughter. There is a beautiful story of how she was made from snow and came to life. You can watch an old cartoon in Russian about her story.
3)Ёлка (Yolka Tree): what in English is called a Christmas tree in Russian is referred to just as Yolka (which basically means “fir tree”) and is set up at the end of December before the New Year’s Eve. In different parts of the country people prefer different kinds of fir trees and in some places pine trees are more prevelant. You can usually buy them at fir tree bazaars and may keep them until after January 13th (the Old New Year). Lots of families prefer artificial trees and they come with or without the lights. The decorating of the trees varies by family but a lot of families still hang candy on the tree and allow the kids to get them off the tree throughout the holiday season. You can read this post in Russian about some memories about the New Year’s traditions in the Soviet Union.
4) Ёлка (holiday celebration) Yolka is a traditional celebration for kids. There are big shows with performances by professional actors in concert halls and theaters. You can buy a ticket for your children and usually can accompany the smaller children to it. The kids get a bag or box with sweets at the end as part of the event. Usually there is a point when the children shout : “One, two, three – turn on the lights on the tree!” to help Grandfather Frost light up the tree.
Yolka’s are very much a part of the popular culture too and you can find a reference to them in lots of movies and cartoons. In 2010 a new comedy movie was released around the New Year’s called Yolki and it since had 4 sequels (most recent one in 2016). It became another traditional movie to watch around this time of the year (the most popular movie is the Irony of Fate, that was filmed in 1975 and then had a sequel in 2007).