Holiday season is upon us, and, in case you would like to wish your Russian friends and contacts a Happy New year and a Merry Christmas – Russian style, here is a short guide. As you will see, even Christmas wishes are subject to cross cultural differences!
Christmas cards Russian style
Every time I write Christmas cards in English I want to make them much longer than they should be. Being brought up in the Russian culture, I want to wish everyone good health, a lot of happiness, great success, love, good luck, fulfilment of all their dreams in the new year and various other things. Translated into English it sounds completely over the top, and, supplemented by many exclamation marks (we like using those in Russian!) somewhat hysterical. So, I suppress my Russian impulses as hard as I can and reluctantly write “Have a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year”. To a Russian, such a short greeting without any particular wishes or a personal touch sounds like you don’t care!
How do we greet people at this festive time of year?
For a start, Russian Christmas (Jan the 7th) comes after the New Year, so we say “Ð¡ ÐÐ¾Ð²Ñ‹Ð¼ Ð“Ð¾Ð´Ð¾Ð¼ Ð¸ c Ð Ð¾Ð¶Ð´ÐµÑÑ‚Ð²Ð¾Ð¼» (Happy New Year and Merry Christmas), and not the other way round. In Russia, the New Year is a much more important occasion than Christmas, so people exchange gifts and greetings a few days before and after Jan the 1st.
Before the New Year comes, we say “C ÐÐ°ÑÑ‚ÑƒÐ¿Ð°ÑŽÑ‰Ð¸Ð¼ ÐÐ¾Ð²Ñ‹Ð¼ Ð³Ð¾Ð´Ð¾Ð¼”, or simply “C ÐÐ°ÑÑ‚ÑƒÐ¿Ð°ÑŽÑ‰Ð¸Ð¼!” – “Happy Coming New Year!” Russians are superstitious, and we don’t like to celebrate something that hasn’t happened yet. Once the new year starts, we say “Ð¡ ÐÐ¾Ð²Ñ‹Ð¼ Ð“Ð¾Ð´Ð¾Ð¼!» – «Happy New Year!» or a longer phrase: «Ð¡ Ð½Ð¾Ð²Ñ‹Ð¼ Ð³Ð¾Ð´Ð¾Ð¼, Ñ ÐÐ¾Ð²Ñ‹Ð¼ ÑÑ‡Ð°ÑÑ‚ÑŒÐµÐ¼!» – «New year, new happiness!”
New Year Wishes in Russian
In writing, on cards, emails, text messages, the usual greeting formula is:
«ÐŸÐ¾Ð·Ð´Ñ€Ð°Ð²Ð»ÑÑŽ Ð’Ð°Ñ (Ñ‚ÐµÐ±Ñ) Ñ (Ð½Ð°ÑÑ‚ÑƒÐ¿Ð°ÑŽÑ‰Ð¸Ð¼) ÐÐ¾Ð²Ñ‹Ð¼ Ð“Ð¾Ð´Ð¾Ð¼!» – “I congratulate you on the arrival of the New Year!”
“Ð–ÐµÐ»Ð°ÑŽ Ð’Ð°Ð¼ (Ñ‚ÐµÐ±Ðµ)” – “I wish you”, and here you can choose from the list of the most popular clichéd new year wishes:
- ÐšÑ€ÐµÐ¿ÐºÐ¾Ð³Ð¾ Ð·Ð´Ð¾Ñ€Ð¾Ð²ÑŒÑ – good health (the most important wish for everyone!)
- Ð¡ÐµÐ¼ÐµÐ¹Ð½Ð¾Ð³Ð¾ ÑÑ‡Ð°ÑÑ‚ÑŒÑ – family happiness (for married people with a family)
- Ð Ð°Ð´Ð¾ÑÑ‚Ð¸ – joy
- Ð›ÑŽÐ±Ð²Ð¸ – love
- Ð£ÑÐ¿ÐµÑ…Ð¾Ð² Ð²Ð¾ Ð²ÑÐµÑ… Ð½Ð°Ñ‡Ð¸Ð½Ð°Ð½Ð¸ÑÑ… – success in all your endeavours
- Ð£ÑÐ¿ÐµÑ…Ð¾Ð² Ð² Ñ€Ð°Ð±Ð¾Ñ‚Ðµ (ÑƒÑ‡ÐµÐ±Ðµ) – success in your work (studies)
- Ð¥Ð¾Ñ€Ð¾ÑˆÐµÐ³Ð¾ Ð½Ð°ÑÑ‚Ñ€Ð¾ÐµÐ½Ð¸Ñ – good mood
- Ð˜ÑÐ¿Ð¾Ð»Ð½ÐµÐ½Ð¸Ñ Ð²ÑÐµÑ… Ð¶ÐµÐ»Ð°Ð½Ð¸Ð¹ Ð² Ð½Ð¾Ð²Ð¾Ð¼ Ð³Ð¾Ð´Ñƒ – fulfilment of all your dreams in the new year
- Ð£Ð´Ð°Ñ‡Ð¸ – good luck
- ÐŸÐ¾Ð±Ð¾Ð»ÑŒÑˆÐµ Ñ€Ð°Ð´Ð¾ÑÑ‚Ð½Ñ‹Ñ… ÑÐ¾Ð±Ñ‹Ñ‚Ð¸Ð¹ Ð² Ð½Ð¾Ð²Ð¾Ð¼ Ð³Ð¾Ð´Ñƒ – a lot of joyful events in the new year
If you don’t want to sound conventional, you can make up any good wishes, customised for a particular person. But just saying “Ð¡ ÐÐ¾Ð²Ñ‹Ð¼ Ð“Ð¾Ð´Ð¾Ð¼” is not enough!
So, to all our students, friends and colleagues, here is a Russian style greeting: Happy Coming New Year! We wish you good health and a lot of happiness, success in your Russian studies, enjoyment of the great Russian language, and we look forward to seeing you in our Russian classes in the New Year!
Ð¡ Ð½Ð°ÑÑ‚ÑƒÐ¿Ð°ÑŽÑ‰Ð¸Ð¼ ÐÐ¾Ð²Ñ‹Ð¼ Ð“Ð¾Ð´Ð¾Ð¼! ÐœÑ‹ Ð¶ÐµÐ»Ð°ÐµÐ¼ Ð²Ð°Ð¼ ÐºÑ€ÐµÐ¿ÐºÐ¾Ð³Ð¾ Ð·Ð´Ð¾Ñ€Ð¾Ð²ÑŒÑ Ð¸ Ð±Ð¾Ð»ÑŒÑˆÐ¾Ð³Ð¾ ÑÑ‡Ð°ÑÑ‚ÑŒÑ, Ð° Ñ‚Ð°ÐºÐ¶Ðµ ÑƒÑÐ¿ÐµÑ…Ð¾Ð² Ð¸ ÑƒÐ´Ð¾Ð²Ð¾Ð»ÑŒÑÑ‚Ð²Ð¸Ñ Ð² Ð¸Ð·ÑƒÑ‡ÐµÐ½Ð¸Ð¸ Ñ€ÑƒÑÑÐºÐ¾Ð³Ð¾ ÑÐ·Ñ‹ÐºÐ°, Ð¸ Ð¼Ñ‹ Ð¶Ð´Ñ‘Ð¼ Ð²ÑÑ‚Ñ€ÐµÑ‡Ð¸ Ñ Ð²Ð°Ð¼Ð¸ Ð½Ð° ÑƒÑ€Ð¾ÐºÐ°Ñ… Ñ€ÑƒÑÑÐºÐ¾Ð³Ð¾ Ð² ÐÐ¾Ð²Ð¾Ð¼ Ð³Ð¾Ð´Ñƒ!