Abstract Musings

Documenting the random thoughts of a cluttered mind

New Year's Ukraine Style

Slate looks at how Ukraine celebrated the New Year. And then contrasts that celebration with the New Year in Moscow.

Dancing in Independence Square last night, my friends and I made a date to celebrate next New Year’s in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. When it turned out that the four young people with whom we were jumping around a leafless tree, holding hands and passing around a bottle of champagne, were also from Russia, one of my friends said: “It’s going to happen for us, too! In a couple of years!” The young people–they must have been college students–hesitated for a second, probably because this is not the sort of thing one would presume to say to strangers in Moscow, and then shouted, “Hooray!”

Back in Moscow, there was also a street party in Red Square. This morning I found out that only people with a Moscow registration stamp in their passports were allowed to enter the square. This means that not only visitors but even people living and working in Moscow but who are registered to live in other Russian cities could not take part in the celebration. That made me even happier that I had spent the holiday in Kiev, where the overwhelming sense was one of openness. Last night, I danced with Russian college students, very young Ukrainians, pretty old Ukrainians, a homeless Ukrainian man, and lots of other people I couldn’t identify. Some of them had dyed their hair orange, the color of the Ukrainian revolution. The music, of course, was not the important part, but in addition to the revolutionary rap, the undisputed hit of the night was “D.I.S.C.O.,” performed by a duo that may in fact have been N-Trance itself. We sang, “She is oh-ohhh-orange!”