When I was growing up in the Soviet Union, New Year’s celebration was a big deal. Christmas, like all religious holidays, was if not prohibited then strongly discouraged and was only celebrated quietly, behind closed doors. That put all the spotlight on New Year’s. Christmas tree was known as New Year tree, presents were delivered by Father Frost on New Year’s night, and all big gatherings were on December 31st. Most of the day was spent cooking and preparing for a big feast, which usually featured way more food than anyone could consume, mainly because all the feasts of my childhood were like that, but also because of the belief that New Year’s celebration set the tone for the whole year so lots of food on that night meant abundance throughout the year. Sometime before midnight, we would sit down to a table laden with food waiting for the big Kremlin clock to announce the arrival of a new year, nurturing that deepest wish which had to be whispered at the exact moment the clock struck 12. What followed was a night of eating, drinking and TV watching. Staying up all night was like a badge of honour, and on our first day back to school we would brag about who managed to “survive” the longest.
When we moved to Canada, we kept those traditions going for a few years but without all the hoopla around it got old pretty fast. So we decided to create our own traditions, and headed into the woods, of course. Continue reading