The old new year is the strangest and most confusing Russian holidays.
The night from the 13th to the 14th of January is called Old New Year. Russia began to celebrate New Year on January 1 in 1700 by decree of Peter I, and to celebrate the Old New year began in 1918. The Old New Year or the Orthodox New Year is an informal traditional holiday, celebrated as the start of the New Year by the Julian Calendar.
The Gregorian calendar was established by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Russia was one of the few countries that refused to change to the Gregorian calendar, and continued to celebrate all its holidays as before, according to Julian calendar, which was 13 days ahead of the Gregorian (European). Russia’s “Old” New Year is celebrated on January 14th according to the Julian, or Orthodox, calendar.
In 1918 the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic accepted the European (Gregorian) calendar by introducing an amendment to 13 days. After January 31 came February 14 immediately. The Russian Orthodox Church though continued to use the Julian calendar. The Soviet leaders although for a long time had to specify if a certain date was according to the new or old style.
So, with time people got used to celebrating New Year according to the new calendar but the tradition to celebrate Old New Year remained. Also, it was a compensation for the loss of Christmas. As you may know, all religion holidays were banned in the Soviet Union.
The tradition of celebrating of the New Year twice is widely enjoyed: January 1 (New Year) and January 14 (Old New Year). The “Old” New Year is more family-like and less solemn with no Kremlin bells or a president speech. Usually this is a family holiday that ends the New Year holiday’s vacation.
Happy Old New Year to everyone!