In the USSR the most important and memorable holiday was New Year’s Eve. Lots of Christmas bazaars opened their doors to numerous visitors. There you could buy divine Christmas trees for your house. People used to store their Christmas ornaments packed in cotton wool in mezzanines (a closed storage space, located somewhere above your head level). There among many ornaments you could find some really old toys from the past and see how people used to celebrate this holiday a very long time ago.

During the Soviet time the best New Year gifts were Christmas tree decorations made of glass or shiny Christmas ornaments. Christmas tree was decked with toys, ornaments and Christmas lights. Almost every family in the USSR had a very beautiful Christmas tree.There were many Christmas trees outside as well. Some people had artificial not freshly cut Christmas trees. But those trees didn’t have a smell of pine needles, although they lookedreal. Yet the advantage of artificial Christmas tree is that you can store it and use it again and again. Next to a Christmas tree there was a figurine of Santa Claus. Santa Claus was a typical symbol of New Year’s celebrations. It was Santa Claus who put gifts for the kids under the Christmas tree!

Right after New Year’s Eve kids started their winter break. All over the country there were children’s performances with elements of Russian folk tales. Performances were held in the morning, and so they were called “matinees”.

There were Christmas matinees everywhere: from some village schools to the Kremlin. It was very difficult to get tickets to a Kremlin Christmas matinee in Moscow. But, on occasion, not only kids from Moscow but also children from the suburbs could attend Kremlin matinees.

For the matinees children often put on paper masks of animals and mythical and literary characters, as well as hand-made costumes. At those Christmas parties you could see funny bunnies, pirates etc.

Look back at the USSR

Look back at the USSR

After Christmas matinees kids received gifts. The presents were packed in colorful boxes. Each year the boxes were decorated in different ways: dwarfs, balloons, traffic lights, backpacks etc.

The gift itself was a collection of delicious sweets, as well as tangerines, oranges or apples. The smell of tangerines was another sign of a memorable New Year’s Eve.

A new toy

A new toy

To sum it up: 30-40 years ago, in the Soviet Union era people used to spent time something like that.

Photos by Alexander Sennikov

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