Celebrate thrice. Before ushering in the New Year, one must send off the old one. To do that, people used to gather at the table around 11 p.m. and raise the first toast on Moscow time. This year those following the tradition will start early, as the Russian capital is now two hours ahead of Kyiv. The two-hour interim is spent talking and eating before the Kyiv midnight celebration begins. But it’s not over until Jan. 14, the start of the New Year under the old Julian calendar. It is not celebrated as widely anymore, but TV stations still broadcast reruns of New Year’s programs on Jan 13, and many families celebrate all over again.
Choose your champagne carefully. Forget Asti and Veuve Clicquot. The most authentic choice of champagne for the New Year’s table is Sovetskoe. It is another touch of nostalgia since many Ukrainians can afford more expensive champagne but still choose the cheap Soviet-era brand. Pyramids of Sovetskoe boxes appear in stores at least a month before the New Year. Depending on the manufacturer, a bottle of Sovetskoe costs Hr 25 to Hr 45. Another popular choice is Artyomovskoe. Produced in Donetsk Oblast, it costs about Hr 50.
Eat tangerines. In Ukraine, there wasn’t always a wide range of fruits available in stores year-round. Decades ago, tangerines harvested in the Soviet Union’s southern areas were brought to stores not long before the New Year, making the juicy fruit the season’s treat.