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Party Food 'Po-Russki'
By Nataliya Dementeva

Most of my English-speaking friends think that I celebrate Christmas on the wrong day. While they are tucking into their turkey on December 25th, I am still finishing my university exams and my mother is importuning nearby grocery stores with her enormous shopping list. Why? Because for me, and for most Russians, we celebrate Christmas according to the Orthodox calendar, meaning that Christmas really falls on January 7th. Moreover, although we, as Russians, do know about Catholic Christmas, and respect this holiday, New Year is much more important.

There are Western-oriented Russians those who travel abroad, those married to Westerners, my generation who celebrate Christmas twice, but the majority of Russians, brought up in the atheistic Soviet Union, think of New Year as being more sacred. These Russians buy a tree not for Christmas, but for New Year.

Food-wise, Russians start planning their New Years Eve menu in early December. Most of us still adhere to traditional Russian cuisine, but more and more Russians are adding foreign food. Consequently, on our New Years table there will be traditional Russian Salad Olivier, Herring under Fur, and then also French foie gras, Georgian dolma, and Italian stuffed ravioli.

A New Years Ritual

A little before midnight, the Russian president will appear on television, to wish his fellow countrymen a happy new year. This is the signal for the whole nation to start making ready for the all-important midnight ritual.

At the stroke of midnight, Russians will open a bottle of champagne; everybody at the party will write a wish on a piece of paper, set fire to it, drop the ashes into their glass, and knock the champagne back, all in one go. All of this has to be achieved before the chimes have finished.

Afterwards, many people will make their way to Red Square and the Moscow River, from where they will watch the fireworks.


  • Blini with caviar
  • Crab meat salad
  • Salad Olivier

Salad Olivier is often also called Russian Salad,
but in fact it was created by a French chef,
Lucien Olivier, at his Hermitage restaurant
in Moscow, in the 1860s

  • Babushkas piroshki




  • Cheese salad served on a slice of tomato
  • Mixed cheese and vegetable canape




    • Marinated Vegetables


    Main Course:

    • Suckling pig

    Stuffed chicken with mushrooms, onions
    and cheese served with mashed potatoes and vegetable

    • Plov

    (rice with meat and vegetables)



    • Pavlova

    In 1935, the chef of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth,
    Western Australia, Herbert Sachse, created
    the Pavlova to celebrate the visit of the great Russian ballerina,
    Anna Pavlova.


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