Voices from Russia

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sputnik International Presents… Soviet Nostalgia: Vintage Holiday Decorations

00 Soviet New Year 01. 27.12.14   

Many people around the globe wonder why New Year in Russia seems to be more popular than Christmas. The answer lies in the Soviet period.


00 Soviet New Year 02. 27.12.14

A set of decorations based on The Fire Horses made by the Moscow Holiday Tree Decorations Factory.


00 Soviet New Year 03. 27.12.14

Christmas tree decorations made during the Great Patriotic War shown at the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War at the Poklonnaya Gora as part of the Victory Holiday Tree exhibition.


00 Soviet New Year 04. 27.12.14

Decorations from the Ariel Factory.


00 Soviet New Year 05. 27.12.14

Ceramic holiday tree ornaments created by 20th-century craftsmen on display at the Exhibition of Holiday Tree Decorations.


00 Soviet New Year 06. 27.12.14


00 Soviet New Year 07. 27.12.14

In contrast with traditional Christmas decorations… angels and the Child Jesus… Soviet decorations mirrored the daily life and achievements of the people. Glass tractors, satellites, cosmonauts, and airships hung together with baby hares, bears, and icicles.


00 Soviet New Year 08. 27.12.14

During the Great Patriotic War, decorations pictured planes, soldiers, tanks, guns, and dogs.


00 Soviet New Year 09. 27.12.14

A set of tree decorations base on Russian fairy-tale figures from the beginning of 1950s, made by the Moscow Holiday Tree Decoration Factory.


00 Soviet New Year 10. 27.12.14

Items at the Back to Childhood exhibition of Soviet holiday tree decorations in Vladivostok objectively portray the epoch.


In the USSR, Christmas and New Year traditions mingled. Although the ruling Communist Party enshrined atheism as the official ideological party line, Christmas celebrations went through the test of time and survived. How? Let’s plunge into the history and find out. Surprisingly, after an unexpected U-turn in Communist Party policy in 1935, Christmas had a revival in the form of New Year festivities. The fir tree came back, but now as the symbol of the New Year, not Christmas. Thus, it isn’t surprising that Russians usually call it a “New Year Tree” rather than a “Christmas Tree”. The Soviet five-pointed star replaced the Christmas Star, and former Christmas presents under the tree became New Year gifts. Tree decorations of the Soviet period weren’t fancy and luxurious, as the country went through harsh conditions. However, the decorations, often hand-made by family members for each other, were full of heartfelt love. New Year is the most important family holiday in Russia. In 1935, the state put on the first New Year festival with a decorated fir tree. In 1938, a 15-metre-tall fir adorned with 10,000 decorations stood in the centre of Moscow. This tradition survived, and the Moscow tree is the country’s main holiday tree.

27 December 2014

Sputnik International


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