Old New Year's at the Russian Embassy
On Monday, Jan. 13, Aleksandra Efimova and Prince Piotr Galitzine, chairs of the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, as well as committee member Laura Yergesheva, were invited by the Russian Ambassador to the United States to celebrate “Old New Year” at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Old New Year is a distinctly Russian holiday that celebrates New Year’s Day according to the old Julian calendar, which was still in use in Russia until 1918. For Russians, Old New Year marks the end of the holiday season, which begins with the current New Year’s Day, followed by Russian Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7, and then Old New Year’s.
“As a Russian-American, I love the chance to celebrate so many different holidays, from Thanksgiving and Christmas to the traditional Russian holidays,” said Ms. Efimova. “It is a wonderful time to be able to reconnect with friends and look forward to the coming year.”
To celebrate the holiday, Sergey I. Kislyak, the Ambassador of Russia to the United States, invited more than 400 of the most prominent members of the Russian community in the United States to attend a lavish cocktail reception and concert at the embassy.
The event also provided an opportunity for Russian business leaders to discuss ideas for the Fourth Annual Russia Day gala and business forum, which will be held in Chicago again in 2014.
During the cocktail reception, guests were invited to tour the embassy’s spectacular rooms, which were decorated for the holidays with thousands of twinkling lights, and see the amazing collection of mosaics, crystal chandeliers and valuable works of art housed at the embassy.
Russian vodka was served, along with traditional Russian hors d’oeuvres, such as caviar, blintzes, stuffed eggplant, smoked fish and olivie salad.
Following the cocktail reception, guests were invited to attend a performance by Igor Butman, the most famous Russian jazz musician alive today. Butman, a jazz saxophonist who has played with American jazz greats such as Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubek and Chick Corea, performed several American jazz standards, as well as his own compositions. In addition, the concert featured Russian-born indie-pop singer Fantine, who has had several hit singles in Australia.
Ms. Yergesheva called Butman’s performance “captivating.”
“When he started doing jazz riffs, it was like being at a jazz club,” she said. “It kind of breaks up the stereotypes of what we think of as Russian culture. It’s amazing to me to see that a Russian-born musician could play jazz like that.”