Friday, December 29, 2006

A bit about flu, but mostly about Russian New Year.

Ok, the flu is not winning so far. Which is amazing. Usually I’m the first to be knocked out by any bug that’s out there in the air. This time I seem to be resisting most of it. Clementines? I wonder. A diet of 20 clementines a day is a sure way to get one’s vitamin C…

Which is not to say that I’m all in the clear. There is the sore throat thing. And the coughing thing. But they are totally manageable. In fact, they give me a raspy low voice I usually lack. Actually, my spoken voice is a whole story to itself. You won’t believe how many times I pick up the phone and the person on the other end asks for my mommy. I can’t say that’s exactly flattering. Doesn’t jive with my self image (or at least the one I’m trying to cultivate) of a serious grown up business woman. Cause you know, in my previous incarnation I was all business. With a business degree and all. Which comes really handy when changing diapers… Hmm…

Anyways, the New Year is coming. And I can’t help but feel that that is the real holiday. The one I gear up for all year. I guess my Russianness is not all out of me yet. Christmas is still a rehearsal holiday. Even though it’s fun. New Year is the big deal. The one full with traditions and associations. The one with a mandatory movie to watch (which my non-Russian husband has already seen quite a few times – I might be lenient about “It’s a wonderful life”, but “Irony of fate” is a must), a mandatory meal to have, mandatory family presence and mandatory loud cheers as the clock strikes 12. Can’t help it. And am sooo looking forward to it.

It is very important to a Russian to meet the New Year well. Cause Russians believe that the way you meet a New Year, is how you’ll spend it. Which is why you want good food, good mood and family around you.

For dinner everyone traditionally has the “Olivie” salad (with pickles, potatoes, canned peas, mayo, etc… -- I’m sure we’ll have it this year, so I’ll post a recipe at some point) and a herring salad. Of course there are also other dishes, but these two are present on pretty much every Russian New Year table I’ve ever seen or heard of. Especially the “Olivie”.

In Russia most people sit down for dinner just before the New Year to thank and say good-bye to the old year, and then they eat more (and drink :-) , but I’ll be skipping that this time) to greet the New Year and wish everyone happiness etc. There is a traditional new-year’s music program on TV, followed by the speech from the president, followed by the Kremlin Tower Clock striking 12 times. I don’t know… But that sound is so ingrained in me, that even now it seems like magic. Somehow during those 12 beats something old comes to an end and a whole new chapter of life opens up.

And that clock is magical. I’ve heard that sound every year since I was too tiny to remember till I left… It’s as if if you don’t hear it, the New Year might not come… It rings a melodic tune first and then strikes the time. And, did you know that it is the most ancient (though frequently restored) mechanical tower clock in the world? In 2004 it turned 600 years old. Needless to say, there is a lot of history and associations that people have with it.

Now that I’m in Canada, I put on my internet Russian channel on in the morning of December 31, and while I’m all frantic preparing, I watch the programs, listen to the clock and get those strange bites of nostalgia that I guess will never fully go away. Cause in my mind’s eye I see all those big parties my parents had, the preparations, the anticipation of gifts and miracles…

By the way, as I already mentioned before, the gifts are brought to kids by Grandfather Frost and his granddaughter Snegurochka (Snow Maiden). Despite some allegations online that Grandpa Frost was an artificial figure to replace Santa Claus in Communist Russia, he actually predates Santa by a long shot. It’s a figure originating in ancient pagan mythology, though, naturally, more fleshed out in recent history (just like Santa). So, you go Grandpa! I still believe in you ;-)

And on that note, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope all your wishes come true, and if something is missing in your life, may this be the year when you find it.

PS: Just in case you’re curious, those Russians who do celebrate Christmas do so on January 7th. And on January 13th people also acknowledge “Old” New Year. Has to do with a calendar modification at the beginning of last century, but also is a great excuse to prolong the party season :-) Which is why I’ll be keeping my Christmas tree for at least another two weeks…

Posted by vasilisa @ 11:26 p.m.

Read or Post a Comment

Happy New Year to you too!

Posted by Anonymous Daddy Forever @ 3:23 a.m. #

Happy and joyous New Year. May you be blessed manny times over with love and grace.

P.S.Green peppers have twice the amount of vitamin C by weight than citrus fruits, so you would only have to eat half as many to get twice the vitamins.


Posted by Blogger Alexys Fairfield @ 1:52 p.m. #

vailisa — i am surprised you haven't turned orange yet!! i hope you continue to fight off the flu and do not catch it.

i also hope the new year brings both you and and your family here in canada much good health, happiness and prosperity. it must be difficult sometimes when you miss "home".

interesting information in your post. thank you for sharing. :)

Posted by Blogger burekaboy — @ 2:07 p.m. #

Your New Year traditions sound wonderful. Enjoy your celebration. I wish you all the best for the new year!

Posted by Anonymous Leslie @ 3:44 p.m. #

Happy New Year Vasilisa! I hope 2007 brings you many blessings along with your new bundle of joy! : )

This is a really wonderful post. I added "Irony of Fate" to my Blockbuster list of movies. I won't get to see it on New Year's but it looks like a great movie. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Blogger Anali @ 6:35 p.m. #

Happy new year to you and your family...have a great time...

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 8:57 p.m. #


I hope you never forget the sound of the Kremlin Tower Clock! That kind of magical feeling is the essence of all holidays...just reading your description of it makes me want to hear it, too.

Happy New Year!

Posted by Blogger Kelley @ 3:12 a.m. #

A very happy new year to you and family....glad you're keeping the flu bug away...20 clementines eh? hmmm...
Wishing you the best of health,

Posted by Blogger Trupti @ 1:39 p.m. #

Happy New Year now and on the 7th!!! Great pictures - thanks for posting them. I am back blogging - same place. :) Can't wait to get back taggin' my foodie friends! Hope you feel better!!!

Posted by Blogger Harmonia @ 9:03 a.m. #

Russian New Year sounds like such fun! Between a Canadian Christmas and the Russian New Year your son is going to grow up with a much bigger and better holiday tradition than most. I'm a little envious of him!

Posted by Anonymous Julie @ 11:06 a.m. #
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I'm a 29 year old mom of two! A toddler (kiddo one) and a new baby (kiddo junior). I am also the most horrible (as in I barely ever do it) cook that I have met in my life. This blog is a diary of my attempts to feed my hungry growing family

PS: My name is not actually Vasilisa... But I find that honest reporting comes easier when there is a shred of anonymity. (Apparently, posting pics of my sons doesn't count...)

PPS: For those of you wondering where on the planet I am: I'm cosily tacked away in the Torontonian suburbia of the Great White North (Canada).

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