The Old New Year

We go on publishing the best speeches of our Toastmasters. «Studying the history of our country through personal and family history is the best way for understanding that period of time», says Alex and delivers his memorable speech about the history of his family, about the history of our country.


  • Aleksey, you know – I’ve already spent two years for studying your country, but sometimes I still feel confused with some of your habits and public holidays. Explain me, per favor, this meaningless holiday: Old New Year?

Let me introduce a friend of mine: Jimchik. That, seventy three years old pal, MIT graduate and brilliant engineer, has a huge house in Texas and a Rolls-Royce in garage. But he prefers to be a citizen of the world. Ukraine is one of his favorite places for living.

  • Okay, Jimchik. I’ll try. (Pause) I hope you’ll agree that the best way for the real understanding of foreign customs and holidays is a deep immersion into the past?
  • Yeah…
  • Here five stories about Old New Year. Maybe they will help you to understand Ukrainians.

1919. My grand grandfather worked in a church. Tiny country church. And every Christian knew that Christmas is before New Year, not after. But in the previous year Bolsheviks’ government decided to change the calendar – the country should use Gregorian instead of Julian. After this change Christmas began to be after New Year. “The time is out of joint». But all government regulations in the world are not able to change habits of Ukrainians. And my ancestor met that New Year as for many years before – a week after Christmas. And generous cutia was on the table, and baked pork, and, of course, a glass of fine samogonka.

In 1933 my grandfather met Christmas just with water and bread. Two his relatives had died recently because of terrible hunger. Bread, maid from bad flour and oilcake was salted by tears. It was the bitterest Old New Year in his life.

My father was the first, who changed a village to the city. 1958 was the year of atheistic war: the government tried to ruin the Orthodox Church again. But students in the dormitory of Dneprojerzhinsk metallurgical institute, despite of any bans, drank vodka, ate herring with baked potatoes and celebrated Old New Year.

1982 was the last year of Breizhnev’s era. My mother and we, two young boys, met that Old New Year with compote, tangerines and nuts, wrapped in silver foil. Mom joked: “Let’s pop balloons – let them think that we are drinking champagne!”

2015 The circle of time is closed: Old New Year is with us again. We again eat generous kutia, drink vine and sing kolyadki: (Song)

  • Aleksey! Now I feel that I’ve understood that holiday! Let’s drink for New Old Year!

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