Yesterday was Christmas day across most of the world. It wasn’t in Russia. Russian Christmas follows the Orthodox calendar and falls on 7th January, and this is celebrated to a certain extent. But the big event is New Year, and this is celebrated in the same way as it is in the West: by the entire population going out and getting completely hammered.
But whereas in the West the New Year party marks the end of the festive holidays and everyone returns to work with sore heads and utterly depressed on the 2nd January, in Russia the party is only just starting. Or at least, it is officially. The public holidays in Russia run from 1st to 8th January, but as of today getting any cooperation out of a public body or ministry is nigh on impossible. Even in the private sector, productivity is falling rapidly as eyes focus not on their work but on the looming festivities. And from what I hear, the New Year holidays in Russia are as much a matter or survival as they are of celebration. For not only do the Russians continue their New Year celebrations well into the morning of the 1st, they often carry on until the 2nd and sometimes even the 3rd. Then as the New Year parties fade into the background, other parties spring up for no other reason than everyone is off from work and they might as well get drunk. Usually this involves the people who you were not able to spend New Year with, and then once this party is over, you meet up with the lot you spent New Year with and raise a glass or two to the occasion once again.
The holidays might officially last only until 8th January, but the party spirit goes further. Not ones to usually bother seeking an excuse to drink and party, Russians have seized on the concept of Old New Year, which falls on 14th January, as justification for extending the festivities for another week. So the wisdom imparted by Russians is don’t expect anything to get done in the time between 28th December and 15th January, as the entire country will be completely drunk and in no mood to do anything which might resemble work. Apparently, this includes such activities as filling up ATM machines with cash, meaning you have to hoard it all under your mattress before the revelling starts lest you find yourself short and - horror! - unable to buy more drink.