New Year’s coming! Father Frost arrives in Moscow

Father Frost, Russia’s answer to Santa Claus, has arrived in Moscow from his headquarters in the northern city of Veliky Ustyug. Accompanied by his granddaughter Snow Maiden, he lit up a huge fir tree in Red Square.

He talked a little with the children who gathered in the heart of the capital to greet him and to ask for some special gifts.

To their great delight, Father Frost also performed a song called “I Work as a Magician” – together with popular Russian singer Iosif Kobzon and Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov.

He then left for his official Moscow residence located in the south-east of the capital. During his “official” stay there he will meet many more children to listen to and certainly fulfill their wishes.

Red Square is traditionally the main place of New Year festivities, and it is adorned accordingly. The GUM department store just opposite the Kremlin wall is decorated with thousands of lights and is reminiscent of a fairytale castle. Just in the center of the square there is a skating rink, which is open the whole day through from 10 am till almost midnight.

Unlike Western countries, New Year is the most important holiday at the end of the year, rather than Christmas. So the Russian capital and the entire country are now all looking forward to December 31, busily buying gifts for their friends and loved ones.

Additionally, Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7 as the Russian Orthodox Church sticks to the Julian calendar. Although festivities are not that large-scale, many people have dinner within the family circle or with friends. Some spend the day outside, going to parks and skating rinks.