The first and most important holiday of the year is, of course, New Year’s Eve. Over the past few years New Year’s Eve celebrations have been evolving into colorful and prolonged New Year’s vacations (up to 10 non-working days) not only for children, but for grown-ups as well.
All Russian residents celebrate New Year’s Eve, like others worldwide, on the evening of Dec 31 until Jan 1. They celebrate big time, thanks to so many non-working days declared by the government.
Many people go to the countryside, on guided tours, to vacation retreats and alpine ski resorts. Those who stay home celebrate New Year’s Eve by joining street parties downtown to see and listen to artists performing in city squares and parks; skating, seeing fireworks and having fun to their heart’s content.
Public transportation systems are available all night long. Taxi fare is higher than on working days or weekends, but the service is available. Only you will have to wait for your cab a bit longer, and some streets will be closed to vehicular traffic.
If you are not prepared to spend time in the open air, take the time to make a reservation at a restaurant or café (preferably, a week or two beforehand, but still you can find a place at the last moment), that offers different entertainment programs and banquet menus suited to every taste. Large hotels offer banquets and festive events to celebrate New Year’s Eve as well.
Theaters and circuses also prepare special New Year’s programs and shows. They organize special performances for kids, so-called yolki, where children receive gifts form Ded Moroz (Russian Santa) and his granddaughter Snegurochka.
However, some Russians like to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home, at a big table – with their families or guests. After midnight, they go out to launch fireworks and congratulate their neighbors. They are not deterred by the fact that recent laws make launching of fireworks outside specially designated areas subject to a fine of up to two thousand rubles.
A rich table is considered to be a sign of good manners, and is one of the most important traditions. A decorated Christmas tree, lots of guests and a cheery disposition are welcome.
Believe me, if you go to Russia for New Year’s Eve, you will definitely not get bored!