January 13 is the Russian “Old New Year” (“Старый Новый Год”). When I say this phrase to my American friends, most pause and ask me – what exactly does that mean? Are the Russians like the Chinese, celebrating everything according to their own calendar?
The truth is that Russia was one of the last countries in Europe to adopt Gregorian calendar and only did so by a decree of the new Soviet government in 1918. By this time the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars amounted to 13 days, pushing New Year’s celebrations to January 13. Additionally, the Russian Orthodox church never recognized the new Gregorian calendar, continuing to celebrate Christmas on December 25th of the Julian calendar (or January 7th of the Gregorian calendar), and New Year on January 1st (or January 13th of the Gregorian calendar).
So, Happy New Year 2011! (again)