For many Russians, New Year is the most important holiday of the year. Unlike many other countries, in modern Russia the Christmas tree (or New Year tree, as Russians call it) is put up in honor of that day, instead of Christmas. Usually Russians decorate their holiday trees in the last week of December.
Prior to the 1917 Revolution, the Christmas tree symbolized Christmas in Russia, as is the case in many other countries. But with the onset of the anti-religion campaign, Christmas and the Christmas tree were banned. Russians only started to decorate Christmas trees again in 1935, when Stalin announced them the symbol of New Year.
During the Soviet period, Russians hung not only traditional sphere- and cone-shaped ornaments on their trees, but also specially crafted ornaments that honored historical events, such as the first man in space, the construction of the nuclear submarine, and even the Virgin Lands Campaign.
In the 1990s, it became popular to decorate Christmas trees in what many referred to as “European” style, meaning covering the tree in identical ornaments. Mistletoe and candy canes also became popular.
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