From the beginning of the year, I was pretty excited about celebrating the New Year in Russia. I’ve known for a while that it’s a pretty big deal… like all the trappings of American Christmas, but without any expectations that you’d spend it at home with your family/at church that might keep it calm.
All these things are true.
Our New Year’s celebrations began on December 29, with the university holiday party. I will interrupt myself to say: I never predicted I would enjoy myself. My recollections of company holiday parties mostly involve being stuck in a basement with a bunch of strange children, occasionally being pulled upstairs to make conversation with a bunch of strange adults, and “meals” involving a lot of strange foods (caviar, anyone?). And now I’m no longer a child, so I wouldn’t even have the benefit of watching Mousehunt while the grown-ups make small talk upstairs. I was going to have to make the small talk myself.
In that I was mistaken.
Small talk was pretty much an impossibility, because this place was loud. I’m talking ND-Senior-Ball-level loud, like I-never-learned-the-names-of-the-ladies-at-my-table-level loud. So while I don’t particularly like loud music, it was a nice excuse to, um, not make small talk. Moderate noise levels are not necessary for photos, though, so we took a lot of those. Also eating is okay when it’s loud, so we ate a lot. Also drinking, so we, well, drank a lot of mors while watching the other ladies at our table down two liters of vodka.
There was also a program, based on a Russian TV show in which people dress up like celebrities and lip sync to their music. Our boss, Anton, participated. It was moderately (okay, extraordinarily) hilarious.
Then there was the “discotek,” which was like every high school dance but louder and with flashier lights (and whiter dance moves, if that’s possible). So Vickie and I (who both identify as alternately toddlers or old women) left pretty soon after that.
Our New Year’s festivities continued the next morning, when we played Father Frost and Snow Maiden and hopped from department to department delivering gifts (mostly chocolate).
Then it was New Year’s Eve.
First, we went on an epic grocery shopping trip. I have no pictures of the madness that was five people trying to buy food for one night, because it’s embarrassing that five people trying to buy food for one night could constitute madness.
Then we went to German’s house and made food. I made chocolate chip cookies (which for some reason came out really puffy, not as gooey as I like them… maybe Russian baking soda is just more aggressive? Or it has something to do with the pressure?), and Vickie and I did our tag-team peanut-fried chicken. Guys, the stuff is seriously good. It’s almost okay that our friends probably think that all Americans just eat peanut-fried chicken all the time.
Also, German and Andrei made herring under a fur coat, and I tried really hard not to gag at all the fish guts on the table or the knowledge that yes, that’s going to be mixed with mayonnaise and beets in a minute.
Then we went home and slept for a few minutes, I called home, and we were off for the evening. The time was 9:30pm.
By the time Vickie and I got home 10 hours later, we had…
…not to mention watched fireworks, kept a keen eye out the window for Northern Lights (hey, when the sky is clear and you’re up that late anyway…), done yoga for some reason, also headstands for another reason?, also endless pirouettes for yet another reason??, watched and inwardly cried over American Christmas songs hijacked into Russian New Year’s songs, and ate just like a whole lot of food. And not slept.
If you’ve been counting, you know the hour is now 7:30am. This means I have officially done Russian New Year. …Even though yes, we had sushi instead of olivier salad. I think it still counts.
Всех с Новым годом!