St.Petersburg

How to have a real Russian New Year

more than a year ago

New Year, the 31st of December is the most important date in the Russian calendar. And traditions are a big part of these celebrations. Along with the decorating the green fir ‘yolka’ tree and gathering round the tv just before midnight to listen to the President’s address from the Kremlin, eating Olivier salad and drinking far too much champagne, one film has been screened every year since its release in 1975. Everyone knows Ironiya Sudby or S Lyokim Parom (Irony of Fate or Enjoy your Bath) backward. It precisely captures the magic of the Russian New Year.

The Film 
Moscow.New Year’s Eve.The standard Soviet apartment in the standard Soviet apartment block. Sweet geeky Zhenya in his thick black spectacles is trimming the New Year’s yolka tree with his girlfriend Gaiya thinking about how to propose to her, while his mother is in the next room trying not to eavesdrop on her son. Zhenya is then whisked off to the banya with his three friends, one of whom is due to fly to Leningrad but after a few vodkas, a case of mistaken ticket-holder means that Zhenya ends up on the plane instead. Unaware he is no longer in Moscow he gives the taxi driver his address. With streetnames, addresses and apartment blocks looking identical, when the taxi driver drops him off, he still doesn’t realise. Same apartment number, same key, even the same layout which makes it simple for the drunken Zhenya to find the bed. And then the apartment’s owner, Nadya returns home. Mystified to find a strange man in her bed who she cannot convince to leave, then her fiance Ippolit arrives. What is Nadya doing with a strange man in the house on New Years? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out what happens next...

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