I’m guessing it’s because the Soviets didn’t like religion that the tradition of New Year’s trees came about here in Ukraine (and likewise, the rest of the FSU).
The ‘Noviy Got’ (New Year) spirit is kicking in, with decorations going up and pictures of Ded Moroz and Snegurochka appearing all over town. However, even though to me, it looks like Christmas, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas, especially when every tree is emblazoned with a giant 2008 sign in place of an angel or a star.
Noviy Got is just like Christmas – it involves a huge feast, the exchange of presents and lots of drinking and fun. Red furry hats, Christmas carols, and a big tree. Fireworks for six hours straight after the clock ticks over to New Year….
Yah, lotsa fun.
But there’s a niggling sensation that I just can’t shake. It’s winter, right? The season to be merry?
Well, not for me. For me, Christmas is sweating through the month of December is a shopping mall, buying lots of ice to fill up the eskies for Christmas. It’s a melt-worthy session in church on Christmas Eve, before going home to enjoy the long summer evening* by tucking into a roast turkey dinner (because it’s too hot to have it the next day).
It’s a lazy summer brunch by the pool (eggs benedict and champagne), then a huge seafood platter for lunch (more champagne and probably a nice crisp Sauv Blanc). It’s the afternoon in the pool or playing cricket, before eating leftovers on Boxing Day and watching the first day of the MCG Test Match.
And yes, to most Australians, Christmas is still about wintery-looking Christmas cards, people dressing up as Santa (who usually almost melt), snowy scenes, jingle bells and (fake) wintery trees.
I guess, because the wintery Christmas was so far removed from our summery reality, it just made Christmas even more special. (Bwahoo hoo I’m getting homesick for a hot hot Christmas).
*Except in Queensland, where I grew up. Because they refuse to go onto daylight saving time. As they say when you land in Queensland in the summer, “Ladies and gents, welcome to Queensland. Please set your clocks back an hour, and your mind back 20 years.”