Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Happy New Year!

I know that my blog has been fairly quiet these past few days and that is because I have been out celebrating New Year and off travelling around Russia but I am now back and filled with new and interesting tales to tell about my random adventures in Russia.
The first takes place in Red Square on New Year’s Eve. My friends and I decided that as we may only be in Moscow once we should head to the centre in order to watch the fireworks over Red Square. As a result of the Soviet Union Christmas is not celebrated in Russia unless you are a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, so in it’s place New Year is the big festival and is celebrated to same extent that our Christmas is.
The tension built as it neared midnight in Moscow as each time a different time zone in Russia hit New Year it was reported. Around 10 we headed from my friend’s flat to Red Square, it was lucky we set out then as it took us literally an hour to get through 4 rounds of security before we could stand in Red Square. Each row of security was simply a row of militia joined arms to hold back the crowd but being as they are the Russian police force they are scary and don’t take any nonsense. There was one very scary moment when the crowd surged forward to force themselves through the next barrier and we were simply pushed back, with some force, by the police and ended up being crushed by the crowd and the police. However this was considered mild once we saw some of the police punching people who refused to listen back into the crowd, clearly they had been told not to take any nonsense and use any methods necessary. My friends, Becky and Carole, decided that linking arms and banding together was the safest option.
Despite all of the fighting through the crowds it was worth it to witness thousands of Russians uniting together to bring in the New Year by waving Russia flags and shouting ‘С Новым Годом’ or ‘Россия’ and to watch the firework display over the Moscow River.
We beat a hasty retreat home once people started to let off fireworks in Red Square next to us and in the main streets around Red Square. We arrived in my friend’s region to more people letting off fireworks in parks, streets and courtyards so we decided it was safest to head to her flat and watch trashy New Year television and lust over Dima Bilan.
Being Russia the New Year celebrations rage for ten days here as the period from January 1st to 10th is taken as national holidays.
My New Year’s experiences and surprises had not finished there Russia upon my return to my flat I was greeted by not one babushka but two. After getting over this shock and being told to take my snowy boots off we sat the three of us in the kitchen and had a mini New Year feast with real Sovietskaya Shampanskaya, salmon from Komchatka and other Russian delights like cakes that are called ‘Kartoshka’ (potato in Russian) and I was treated to the experience of not one but two very merry babushkas telling me to ‘EAT’, ‘DRINK’ and offering me multiple dishes. Luckily I was allowed to go and sleep once I had half explained that the next day I was off to Vladimir and Suzdal and needed to wake up at 5:30am to catch the 8am electritchka, so I left them happily reminiscing over their visits to Vladimir and Suzdal while I slipped off for a quick shower before bed. It is at this point I would like to wish you all a very Happy, yet belated, New Year!

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