Date of Performance/Collection:
The informant is a Russian-American-Bulgarian woman who spent the first half of her life in Russia. She currently resides in Boston, MA and the interview took place over zoom in which I interviewed her about the Russian folklore that she grew up with and that she feels represents the Russian people and culture.
Transcribed and translated from an interview held in Russian
The celebration of the New Year is a big deal in Russia. During the Soviet Union where religion was outlawed and Christmas was no longer celebrated, New Year’s became a big event that everyone would look forward to. It was where Ded Moroz (Grandpa Frost) would come and bring presents. People stay up until midnight, counting in the new year and making a wish as the clock strikes 12.
We would invite friends over to celebrate with us and make food for everyone to eat. In Russia, there are some staple New Years Eve foods. Eggs with ikra (salmon roe), meat or cabbage filled pastries and a bunch of different salads. Olivier being the main one. But salads in Russia are not like in other places. They are very hearty with potatoes and meat, and vegetables – probably because that’s all they really had to hold themselves over back in the day, so it just became a part of the culture…
A ban on religion did not stop the Russian people from finding a way to celebrate and to give gifts. This shows humanity’s desire to come together and find a reason to celebrate a certain event, the end of a year, or the overcoming of a hardship. It gives them something to look forward to and to plan for.