Russia has to wait two more weeks for the Orthodox Christmas. In addition, the big celebration since Soviet times is New Year’s Day. A challenge for every Swiss abroad.
This content was published on 20. December 2007 – 16:10 published 20. December 2007 – 16:10
Those who don’t take the three-hour plane ride home celebrate with friends, in a restaurant, or simply postpone Christmas until the 31st. December.
"I will hardly realize on Monday that it is Christmas," says, says Mathias Muller. The 29-year-old has a normal working day on Christmas Eve in Moscow.
"Only our German merchants will not be available." Muller sells agricultural supplies in Russia. The fact that Christmas is practically cancelled for him this year, he doesn’t find so bad.
The Red Square – a winter fairy tale
In the Russian capital, brightly colored Christmas trees can be found in almost every major square at present. Nevertheless, the typical Swiss Advent is missing. "One does not really get into the pre-Christmas mood here", says Muller.
Moscow looks wildly romantic even in the snow. "The city doesn’t have to hide even from New York", says Eddy Gerber, head of Russia at Swiss. On the Red Square people skate in front of the magnificent backdrop of the Kremlin.
The facade of the noble department store GUM shines in the glow of thousands of lights. Only one thing is missing: "The icing on the cake would be a small Christmas market", says Gerber. "Then it would be really perfect."
Gregorian calendar replaces Julian calendar
After the October Revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks replaced the old Julian calendar with our Gregorian calendar. This not only postponed the October Revolution to 7. November postponed, even with the Christmas holidays a lot of things got mixed up.
On New Year’s Day, which is common all over the world, people have been celebrating the country’s bright future with presents and a Christmas tree since Soviet times. Orthodox Christmas Eve, on the other hand, falls on 6. January. A week later, the "old" Christmas is celebrated (Julian) New Year celebrated. For some years now, the time from 31. December until 9. January completely free. The whole country is in a new year’s compulsory break.
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"Fondue chinoise for the nostalgic Swiss"
The Swiss abroad have to come to terms with Moscow’s Christmas rhythm. On 24. December, the Cafe des Artistes is the meeting place for those left behind. "For the few nostalgic Swiss who are in Moscow, we make a fondue chinoise", says the Swiss owner of the restaurant, Michel Dolf.
Fondue for the Swiss, Christmas goose for the Germans, oysters for the French – just a stone’s throw from the Kremlin, Dolf tries to offer each of his regular guests his traditional Christmas menu.
But most of the guests will be Muscovites also on Christmas Eve. "More and more Russians are wild about other traditions," he says, says Dolf. "For them this is again a reason to try something new." Eddy Gerber will probably forego a fondue in favor of a menu at the Cafe des Artistes. His girlfriend Susanne Kiefer must on 24. December still working at the embassy.
That’s why we’re not going home to Switzerland until Christmas Day. "We are looking forward to Christmas Eve in Moscow. This is something different", says Gerber.
60% of Swiss fly back home for Christmas, estimates businessman Rene Meier, who has spent the past four years celebrating the holiday in Moscow. The rest either have to work or are married to Russians. "The New Year is often celebrated more pompously than Christmas", says Meier.
"Father Frost brings the presents"
The 31. December Russia celebrates half like the Western Christmas and half like our New Year’s Eve. Father Frost, the Soviet version of St. Petersburg. St. Nicholas and his granddaughter Snegurochka (German: Schneeflockchen) bring presents to children. But above all, a lot of food is eaten.
"There is no such thing as a fixed Christmas menu", Moscow family man Alexander Marjin says. "We always cook what we feel like." The romantic comedy "Irony of Fate or Enjoy Your Bath" is a firm part of the New Year’s Eve tradition!" on Russian television.
The classic from 1975 mixes a typical Soviet story of mistaken identity with subtle criticism of the uniformity of prefabricated housing districts.
"I especially like that the Orthodox Christmas here is limited to the essentials", says Mathias Muller. "Hype and consumer stress are already over after the New Year."
On 24. In December, he and a few Russian friends will go to the Catholic church in Moscow after work in the evening, before he has to go back to work the next day. The fact that it’s still Christmas in Switzerland is quickly forgotten by Muller in the hustle and bustle of Moscow: "It’s harder to be in a Western country."
swissinfo, Erik Albrecht, Moscow
How do Swiss people celebrate Christmas abroad?? What comes with them on the holiday table?
swissinfo reports on this in a loose series from various regions of the world.
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How do Swiss people celebrate Christmas abroad? What do they put on the festive table??
swissinfo reports on this in a loose series from different regions of the world.
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New Year’s Eve classic: irony of fate
Since 1975 in Russia is New Year without the classic "The irony of fate or Enjoy your bath!" unthinkable. The story is as romantic as it is absurd and probably only conceivable in the former Soviet Union.
After a steamy afternoon in the banya, the Russian sauna, Zhenya’s friends mistakenly put him on a plane from Moscow to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) on New Year’s Eve. Petersburg) set. completely drunk, he staggers into a cab at his destination and gives his Moscow address.
The driver then takes him to a Leningrad prefabricated housing estate that looks confusingly like Zhenya’s Moscow neighborhood. Even the key to his supposed apartment fits – only the woman is a different one.
Pointed dialogues and subtle criticism of the uniformity of Soviet cities make the romantic comedy "The Irony of Fate" a comedy to the standard Russian New Year program.
The three-hour film is shown year after year in two parts on 31 December. December and 1. January shown on television.
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