, author: Ermakova M.

From hazel grouse to Olivier: how the traditions of the New Year's feast ha

The evolution of holiday dishes and gastronomic habits.

The history of New Year's feasts in Russia is rich in traditions, largely based on religious canons, as well as dictated by family habits. Preparing various treats for the New Year's table has always been part of the holiday, but in different eras there were completely different dishes on the tables of the inhabitants of our country:

Before the 1917 revolution

pre-revolutionary feast

The holiday at that time was truly family, intimate, since the main role was assigned to Christmas, and not the New Year. Poultry meat (goose or duck, less often turkey) was prepared for the holiday. The birds were specially fed to prepare them for the Christmas feast. And in the North they feasted on hazel grouse.

We also loved to eat suckling pig at Christmas. It was baked, first stuffed. They washed down all this splendor with wines - Russian and overseas (Note - excessive consumption of alcohol is harmful to health):

“The St. Petersburg resident showed himself at Christmas to be a great lover of champagne and cognac of French brands,” we read in an article from 1912. — Grape wine, foreign and Russian, had average success. Fruit trade, despite the high price due to a large crop failure this year, was successful. The chocolate trade was brisk, and even very brisk.”


new year

Since 1922, the celebration of the New Year (now it was celebrated) has acquired a more global scale. It is celebrated widely, cheerfully, with many guests. Decorated Christmas trees appear and the main character of the celebration - Santa Claus. It is noteworthy that in the first years of the existence of the Soviet Union, the feast was not that part of the holiday, without which few today imagine the New Year. The New Year's meal became such only in the late 40s of the last century.

The main problem was that many products were difficult to buy, they had to be “obtained”. For this reason, people prepared many holiday treats themselves. Thus, homemade liver pates were very popular. All kinds of cakes were baked (Napoleon with condensed milk was very popular). The tradition of cooking Olivier originated right then. Housewives bought canned green peas in advance for the treasured salad. Those who could not afford to add sausage to the salad cooked without it or replaced it with chicken. Cutlets, traditional jellied meat and herring “under a fur coat” were also served. And the main dish of the New Year's table in Siberia was, of course, dumplings.


For the most part, the “backbone” of the festive feast during this period was not much different from the Soviet one - the same salads and jellied meat were prepared. Homemade pickles were opened - cucumbers, lecho, all kinds of vegetable mixtures. And instead of pig, they served mashed potatoes with fried minced meat. Since this mixture is quite plastic, intricate housewives sculpted the body and head of a pig out of it. Popular drinks at that time were various fruit liqueurs - cherry, orange, etc., but they did not forget about champagne.

Our days

Fruit Christmas tree on table

Today, New Year's gatherings at the table take a slightly different form. Not everyone now sets a full table, from which they start devouring treats after the chimes strike. This option is quite common - Russian families have a full dinner on the evening of December 31 at their usual time, and celebrate the New Year with only light snacks on the table - cold cuts, fruit, sweets and chilled champagne.