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How Eastern Europeans Celebrate New Year's

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Lithuanian New Year Traditions

Laimingų Naujųjų Metų -- Happy New Year in Lithuanian

In some regions of Lithuania, New Year's Eve is known as "little Christmas Eve," and foods similar to those served for Christmas Eve are eaten, except the dishes contain meat. People stay up until midnight because sleeping through the beginning of the new year will bring bad luck. An important part of New Year's Eve and Day is the telling of fortunes and making predictions. Read more about Lithuanian festivals here.

Polish New Year Traditions

Szczesliwego Nowego Roku -- Happy New Year in Polish

New Year's Eve is known as Sylwester because it falls on the feast day of St. Sylvester. Poles party hearty with good food and drink. New Year’s Day festivities might include a hayride into the forest where a bonfire is set and sausages, bigos and wodka are enjoyed. Bakers sell breads and rolls in the shape of rabbits, sheep, geese, and cows to assure wealth and good luck for the coming year. Round or ring-shaped breads are also popular because they symbolize life coming full circle and eternity, and paczki are served for dessert. Sylwester begins Carnival -- a period of balls and parties before Lent begins. Read more about Polish festivals here.

Romanian New Year Traditions

Un An Nou Fericit (or La Mulţi Ani) -- Happy New Year in Romanian

In Romania, lucky foods include sarmale (cabbage rolls), mititei (a freeform sausage). The New Year dinner is lavish because it is believed if the meal is rich, so will be the new year. Palinca (plum brandy) is a traditional beverage. Fortune telling is an important part of Romanian New Year customs. Read more about Romanian festivals here.

Russian New Year Traditions

S Novim Godom -- Happy New Year in Russian

Russian Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar celebrate New Year's Eve and Day Jan. 13-14. But for those who abide by the government's New Year based on the Gregorian calendar, it is celebrated Dec. 31-Jan. 1. Public celebrations, fireworks, drinking vodka and champagne, partying in clubs or in private homes with an abundance of zakuski or "little bites" (appetizers) is traditional. On New Year's Day, a sumptuous meal of roast duck, caviar, salad olivier, fish in aspic, mushrooms in cream, nut cookies, New Year Clock Cake, and sbiten, a hot, nonalcoholic spiced drink, are consumed. Read more about Russian New Year here.

Serbian New Year Traditions

Srecna Nova Godina -- Happy New Year in Serbian

Most Serbians are Orthodox Christians who celebrate New Year's Eve and Day on Jan. 13-14, according to the Julian calendar. There is an abundance of food and drink, including sarma, spit-roasted pig, tortes, nutrolls, strudels, and desserts galore. Rakia, a powerful drink of grape brandy, sometimes blended with whiskey and spices, is traditional at this time of year. Christmas trees are decorated and presents given on New Year's Day rather than Christmas Day. At midnight on New Year's Eve, Deda Mraz (Grandpa Frost) visits houses and leaves presents under the tree.

Slovakian New Year Tradition

Štastný Nový Rok -- Happy New Year in Slovakian

New Year's Eve in Slovakia is celebrated with street and home parties. New Year's Day dinner might include roast goose, klobása and jaternica sausages. Strudels with nut or poppyseed fillings are popular desserts. Read more about Slovakian festivals here.

Slovenian New Year Traditions

Srečno Novo Leto -- Happy New Year in Slovenian

Outdoor parties with live bands are typical in the larger cities. Feasting is on pork and many rich desserts like Prekmurska Gibanica or potica on New Year's Day.

Ukrainian New Year Tradition

Z Novym Rokom -- Happy New Year in Ukrainian

Feasting on fish, pork, legumes, holubtsi (cabbage rolls), pampushki, cakes and other confections is a big part of Ukrainian New Year's Eve and Day festivities. Ukrainians, who follow the Julian calendar, celebrate on Jan. 13-14 (although, as in Russia, the national New Year is technically Jan. 1). Families gather to reflect on the past year, make toasts and predictions about the coming year, and presents are exchanged. Grandfatherather Frost and his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden, pay a visit. Read more about Ukrainian Christmas here.
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