Another adventure in the books! Celebrating the New Year in Russia included all the experiences I had imagined, and more.
A little background: New Year’s Eve is the most anticipated and exciting holiday of all here in Russia. Imagine combining what we call the “secular” part of our Christmas with the festivities of ringing in the new year. Home are decorated with garlands, yolkas (New Year’s trees), and lights. Tables are set with the best linens and china. Traditional food abounds (even more than usual), and friends and relatives gather together for games, gift exchanges, and greeting neighbors. Sometime during the evening, they bundle up for a walk to the main square where there’s a party going on for the whole evening and through the night. Fireworks are shooting off all over the place. Even in the play yard below Alla’s apartment. They burst right outside my bedroom window on the 11th floor. That was a trip.
There are the TV programs too–with entertainers and the countdown until midnight. While small kids are distracted, Grandfather Frost drops off gifts. People are happy and optimistic–letting go of the woes of 2013 and grabbing on to the hope of better things in the year to come.
So…I did all this! Wow! It still seems surreal that my dream of celebrating New Year’s Eve in Russia has come true.
Even more meaningful than being amidst all the festivities was sharing this time with many of my nearest and dearest here. The warmth and gracious hospitality and care truly touched me and blessed me. I think it WILL be a happy new year!