Snowsquare posted such nice photos of Moscow's New Years lights, that I thought I would reciprocate.
Keep in mind that not only is Christmas not celebrated on the 25th in this part of the world (the 7th is Orthodox Christmas), the Soviets didn't allow religious celebrations. New Years is traditionally the big civic celebration.
I remember last year getting into an argument with someone here or on some bulletin board about New Years Eve not being that big of a deal in Baku. This person argued that in other parts of the FSU, it's the biggest holiday of the year so it must be a big deal there as well. The guy was right --it is absolutely a big deal here. But New Years celebrations in Azerbaijan paled in comparison to those for Novruz and certainly were nothing like Kyiv's.
I have to say I'm pretty impressed with the effort that has gone into decorations. Colored lights exploded onto Khryshatik and Maidan today. They have sort of a midwestern metropolitan feel to them -- not so much Chicago as maybe Cleveland, or Indianapolis. I'm sure all those children overbundled against the rather balmy 40 degree night were shrieking "I can't put my arms down!" as they hustled from one Ded Moroz to the next.
It seemed for every child there was at least one Ded Moroz (Father Frost) on Maidan. Ded Moroz moves around with his Granddaughter, Snegurochka, the Snow Princess. Interestingly, back in 1991, when the Producer and I were buying used Christmas decorations from destitute Russians in Warsaw's stadium bazaar, we acquired paper mache figurines that I now recognize as Ded Moroz and Snegurochka. I would like to have them, but they are probably rotting in storage in Portland with everything else we own.
The Carpetdogs and I have been watching them assemble Maidan's New Years tree for the last week or so. Based on the heavy metal pole that serves as its stem, I assumed it was going be fake. But someone painstakingly stuck perfectly symmetrical fresh boughs into it, creating the perception of a fake tree that really is somewhat fresh. How clever is that?
The fireworks that accompanied the tree lighting tonight made me think the Russians had invaded. But then I remembered they're already here and didn't get off the couch to investigate further.
One thing I found fascinating was the painted panels surrounding the New Years Tree. They laid out in vivid detail a fairy tale that every Ukrainian five year old can probably recite by heart but was completely unfamiliar imagery to me. I was particularly intrigued by this one.
I've seen the beak and bird imagery a great deal in the polish posters I collect, but I never knew where the idea originated. I wonder if it comes from this story?
In the end though, New Years here isn't so unlike Christmas in America. Someone is going to get their New Years tree home and curse these guys who insisted, "of course it will fit in your stand!"