How Kazan University students celebrated New Year in the olden days

The Main Ballroom in 1925

The New Year has been a real people’s holiday in Russia for over a hundred years.

The 1st of January was first decreed a holiday in 1918. However, in the 1920s the New Year wasn’t widely celebrated and was overshadowed by revolutionary dates. As for religious holidays (the Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7), they were banned. In 1930, a new regulation was introduced to expel anyone who celebrates Christmas from Komsomol (Communist Youth Union). However, informal Christmas parties and balls were still organized by students in dorms and other establishments. Female students, who only gained the right of admission after the October Revolution of 1917, were especially enthusiastic.

On 31 December 1937, a first ever New Year Carnival was held at Kazan University, in the main ballroom (now the Emperor Ballroom). The party was so successful that it became a tradition. Apart from official events, students also organized their own little shindigs in dorms.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the celebrations became all the more festive. Rooms and hallways were decorated, special costumes were prepared, poems and songs were presented, and lavish banquets were held. During those decades, tangerines, Olivier salad and champagne also became traditional New Year meals in Russia. Outdoor activities, such as snowball battles and snowman construction, were – and still are – very popular.

Source text: Artyom Kazakov

Photo: History Museum of Kazan Federal University

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