New Year is the main Celebration in Russia not Christmas, it’s all about coming together as a family and celebrating the ending of one year and the birth of another. We flew to St Petersburg to celebrate with Katya’s sisters family & friends.
St Petersburg out of the flat window is a bit like a view of ‘Mordor’ no trees in sight but the actual city has some very pretty buildings and it’s not too far to drive out of the city that you start to see some of Russia’s famous expanses of forest & untouched land!
New Years Celebration
Russian celebrations are all about family, watching TV, drinking & feasting.
Just like in the UK there are many films shown over the Christmas/ New Year period that get shown every year so a lot of the Celebration is enjoying watching these as a family, with kids playing all around.
The Feast – Obviously for those that drink, alcohol is a big part of the celebration and food is less focused on meat dishes, more on many different kinds of salad and fish. We prepared various salads to bring to the Flat we were celebrating New Year along with a ‘Raw Food’ Cake Katya made.
Regardless if your a Raw Vegan or not it, it was incredibly delicious. Actually my favourite cake of any cake i’ve ever eaten!
In between eating, ‘Ded Moroz’s’ (Russian Farther Christmas) present giving, many games for kids and doing various activities together as one big family. It culminates at midnight with many many fireworks for the next 7 hours & building snowmen with the kids outside.
On New Years eve one of the films shown that Katya had told me about before actually was a famous comedy called ‘S legkim parom’.
During the Soviet Union times the flat blocks, and furniture were almost the same all over Russia. This story is about a guy who gets drunk at a banya (sauna) on New Years eve and ends up in a different city going to the same address as in his (it was a very common address) and goes to sleep in what he thinks is his flat only to be woken up by the women who lives there…
…anyway, i won’t tell you the whole story but I watched it with some help translating bits i didn’t understand and loved the humour in it.
I love how Russians interact and joke with each other, it’s a much closer less guarded way of communicating and jokes are much nicer, not so cruel or smutty like they often are in the UK. It’s actually very interesting for me to see how it’s so different here.
I come from a loving family too, but in the West we have a very different way of communicating, I really appreciate the openness in Russian culture.
After New Year we drove to Katya’s Cousins that live half a days drive outside of Moscow. There they have got a big piece of land where they’ve built a few houses for them and their family all done incredibly fancily.
They also keep Geese, Ducks, Goats, Chickens, Sheep, Cats & a Dog that I really enjoyed socialising with.
Being there was very interesting to see how they’ve had the various houses built as me & Katya want to build are own home soon too so we got to take many ideas/ inspirations here.
The interiors of the houses were very fancy and well done, they were like 5star hotel…or at least how I imagine (having never been in one 😉
We also visited the nearby monastery. The monk’s lifestyle appeals to me in many ways, a clear focus, the spirituality, no distractions from Facebook or the modern chaos that jumbles our minds, its something positive to take from there even if I don’t agree with formal religion in general.
Leaving the cousins home, I was thinking that as fancy & nice as it was there, I actually prefer the simplicity and way Katya’s Families Dacha (Summer House) looked in Novosibirsk. ( You can see how it looks HERE )
I visited it last year and because it was built by there own hands it has more heart & character that I think is Priceless.
I really love Russia, both times I’ve been have been fascinating, the culture is very rich and strong & the negative view the West has from the media of Russia is just plain bollocks in my experience. It’s such a lovely country with so helpful open people and magnificent open spaces.
One story from my trip that illustrates the way people are here comes from when I arrived this time.
In Russia you needed to register your Visa to the city of St Petersburg (or wherever you are). To do this you need a Russian person who is registered as living in St Petersburg to fill in the form and come with you to the post office where you submit the form.
We didn’t actually know you needed to have someone registered to the same city so when we went to submit my info they wouldn’t let Katya do this as she is from Novosibirsk. At this point i thought we’d have to go back to the flat and come back the next day after we found someone who could help us. I never thought to just ask someone.
In the UK I think if you were to ask random people in post office to fill in a form to say that a foreigner was staying at your home and give them all the details of where you live/ passport etc and take 30 minutes to complete the process you’d need to ask very many people before someone would agree.
But after literally a minute of looking Katya found a couple registered here to help us, that they did without hesitation. A completely different culture for sure.
Thoughts for 2013
With the coming of a New Year I have a much greater understanding of myself and our World than I did a year ago and I felt it important to get a clear picture of what I want for 2013.
2012 for me was a good year in terms of realisations but also quite hard in places.
After Worlds I was a bit at a loss of where to go next, how to challenge myself properly & then getting various injuries & set backs along the way I never quite showed what I wanted to in kayak competitions this season. I did make many realisations about life, what’s important & my approach to it however.
For 2013, life feels like it’s getting brighter and 2013 I’m positive will be a break trough year for us again. I’ve been really enjoying hard physical exercise lately, it clears my mind and I love kayaking but I know it’s not going to satisfy me completely however successful I am so I’m finding new ways to challenge and excite myself. Other that, we really want to start building a home somewhere, the main issue, where?
I’m drawing a picture in my head of how I want the year to look, putting in as much details as I can and I feel excited for the year ahead!
Happy New Year from us!