It might surprise you to learn that New Year's Eve is the holiday pinnacle of the Russian calendar given the connection between Christianity and Russia.
There are a couple of reasons for that. First, you have to understand, there are TWO New Year's Eves in Russia. One at the end of the year of the Gregorian Calendar that many cultures around the world celebrate. Russians also celebrate another new year on Jan. 14, marking the transition in the old Orthodox calendar. on And come on, when does having two of something good not make it great?
The other reason NYE in Russia is nuts has to do with history, specifically the Soviet Union. When the union was still around, Christmas was banned. No one was allowed to celebrate the holiday. However, its traditions weren't entirely erased. People simply moved them to a new holiday: New Year's Eve.
So there are two New Year's Eves, and one of those used to serve as a celebration of both the new year and Christmas. That's a big deal.
On this NYE in Russia, you might recognize some distinctly Christmas-y practices. Family dinners or parties, a man in a red suit (not named Santa) bringing children gifts, and an address from Vladimir Putin. (Alright, less Christmas-y for those of us here in the U.S.A. but you get the picture.)
However, once that clock hits midnight, Russians hit the streets, attending celebrations, concerts, and generally gathering to usher in a new year and start it off right.