I spent last Christmas in Ukraine where the legacy of the ‘opium of the masses’ doctrine lives on and Christmas time, for most people, is a completely non-religious affair. In fact, for many in the former Soviet Bloc, Christmas is not observed at all and rather the merriment surrounds solely New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For the religious minority, Christmas is celebrated in line with the Orthodox Russian Church’s tradition, on January 7th.
Owing to the absence of Christmas, New Year’s Eve in this region is when the family will come together, exchange gifts, watch an old sentimental Soviet-era film and eat a traditional New Year meal (in Ukraine this is a chicken salad called ‘Olivier’).
Nevertheless, although this is serious family time, you won’t fail to notice some serious drinking going on. But then, how else would they get through those painfully cold winters?