Russian Old New Year


“Russia used to be on the Julian calendar. But after the revolution, it began using the Gregorian calendar,” Russian Cultural Center Executive Director Sophia Grinblat says, explaining why a New Year’s celebration would take place after January 1. “Many Russians still remember the old calendar.

”That’s the spirit behind the Russian Old New Year, a feast of Russian food, music and heritage. Grinblat jokes that Russians “celebrate Christmas twice and New Year’s twice. It sounds very crazy.”But keeping the tradition alive is important for the Russian Cultural Center, which strives to showcase the best of Russian arts, food, writing and other heritage touchstones for Russian and Russian-American expats. Non-Russians are welcome at the bash, which Grinblat says will feature terrific bites and that Russian staple, vodka.“It cannot be Russian without vodka,” she explains. “We’ll have blinis. The most popular in Russia are with caviar, so people will be able to try that. And pierogi with different stuffings.”Grinblat says this is the second time the Russian Cultural Center has hosted the event. The tradition began, however, almost 30 years ago, with Greg Harbar, leader of The Gypsies, a band known for its colorful, folkloric Eastern European sound.

He introduced the custom of celebrating the Russian New Year with a party to the Bayou City, turning the fete into a must-attend event.

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Organizer’s description:

While the rest of the world is back at work soon after December 31, the Russians get to celebrate New Year all over again in January with the Julian Calendar. The Russian Cultural Center “Our Texas” has organized this annual event to share rich history, fascinating traditions and entertaining customs in a lively setting, with live music and authentic food. The famous group from Austin “Flying Balalaika Brothers” will play a vibrant blend of Russian and international music. Among the performers of the Russian Old New Year Festival are the Gypsies, Houston’s award winning European-style musical band. The leader of the group, Greg Harbar, a real expert in gypsy and Eastern-European music, has been a prominent figure of musical Houston for over 40 years. In keeping with the tradition, there will be delicious Russian foods on sale, as well as wine and Russian vodka –from Russian Standard and Svyturys.