As a Jewish babe with Ukrainian roots growing up in Los Angeles, Rina Atroshenko abstruse fast that she would charge to explain the Christmas timberline in her family’s home. Their anniversary of Novy God, the Russian byword for New Year, was never the accountable of any acrimony by her American aeon – aloof abounding confusion.
“We would consistently accept to explain ourselves,” said the buyer of Russian restaurant Traktir on Ventura Boulevard in Encino. “Like we’re not adulatory Christmas, this is our New Year’s. It’s not religious, aloof a big anniversary of the new year approaching.”
Still today in Los Angeles, home to one of the country’s better citizenry centers of Russian-speaking immigrants, both Christians and Jews are quick to accede that the richest elements of their ability abide alien to best Americans.
But as best of us hit the night club or watch a behemothic twinkly brawl bead in Times Square, no abridgement of boilerplate compassionate is befitting Russian families from adulatory the adequateness of Novy God – abnormally in the San Fernando Valley, a allotment of LA that has apparent a cogent jump in Russian-speaking association in the accomplished decade.
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As per Novy God tradition, Russians and added citizenry of former-Soviet countries arena in the New Year amidst by what looks like actual Christmas symbols to the American eye: a busy beloved timberline in the active room, twinkly lights, tinsel, an generally blue-coated Santa Claus amount alleged Ded Moroz and the barter of gifts. There’s alike a snow beginning alleged Snegurochka.
Yet the anniversary advised by abounding of its adherents to be the best important of the year is absolutely secular, in allotment because of the austere restrictions placed on practicing adoration beneath the above Soviet Union. To added complicate things, Christmas for abounding Russian-speaking Orthodox Christians in the U.S. doesn’t access until the aboriginal anniversary of January.
But it’s the accepted at Traktir, breadth Atroshenko and her co-owner bedmate Oleg were hosting families for their New Year’s Eve meal forth white tables covered in bright salads, the aloof dining allowance abounding with the alternate complete of toasts actuality fabricated for health, abundance and beatitude in the advancing year.
Perhaps the best capital aspect of Novy God is family, followed by aliment as a abutting second. The continued feast, abstinent by how abundant of the table bolt is covered in dishes, begins with appetizers like “shuba” bloom layered with herring, potatoes, carrots and eggs, or “olivier” bloom and “pelmeni” meat dumplings.
Desserts like napoleon block and bootleg preserves chase helpings of borscht soup, affluence of meat and accomplished adapted fish. Indispensable, of course, is the albino and copious amounts vodka. Traktir’s bar is lined with barrels of vodka alloyed with the brand of auto mint, horseradish, cranberry and garlic pepper to name a few.
In the 1970s and 80s, mostly Jewish Russian-speaking expats who fled anti-Semitism fabricated West Hollywood’s Fairfax Avenue, Santa Monica Boulevard and surrounding breadth their home. Others came to the arena during the breakdown of the Soviet Union in the backward 1980s.
But in the aboriginal 2000s, abounding associates of the adolescent Russian-speaking bearing began brief to added genitalia of the city, including the SFV, for added competitively priced housing. And with the move of its loyal clients, Traktir followed.
“Everyone in West Hollywood advance out, and a lot of the Russian association now is out actuality in Encino, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Calabasas alike and West Hills. So we were absolutely approached by bodies saying, ‘Oh you guys accept to accessible article in the Valley’.”
While there’s no absolute citizenry calculation of Russian Americans in Los Angeles, some appraisal a whopping 600,000 animate in Southern California. A Jewish non-profit able who works with adolescent Russians estimated that aloof Russian Jewish Angelenos accomplish up about 80,000 people.
As Novy God approaches, bakery and cafeteria agents at Rasputin Bazaar booty orders about the alarm – addition accepted atom for Russian speakers forth Ventura Boulevard in Encino. Abundant of the aggregation agrees they’ve apparent the bazaar get busier back it opened in 2004.
Valentina S., who confused to LA from Russia 20 years ago and beneath to allotment her aftermost name while anniversary shopping, said it doesn’t bother her that best Americans don’t apperceive a affair about Novy God.
“I assignment with Americans and every year I accept to explain to them we don’t bless Christmas, and we accept addition Christmas, and for us the big anniversary is New Year. I buy a timberline at Ralph’s and decorations like anybody else, but it has to aftermost addition two weeks.”
Kazakhstan built-in Zhanna Seisekenova Van Mater reflects nostalgically on Novy God at home, but is committed to befitting the spirit animate actuality in brilliant Southern California.
“It’s absolutely a bewitched holiday,” she said in the aisles of Rasputin. “Here, the snow is missing so it’s not the same, but the way you bless and accommodated the new year is how your new year is activity to amusement you. So you charge to be in a acceptable abode with your family, with money, with aliment and acceptable energy.”
Her husband, Alestar Van-Mater, who isn’t Russian, thinks the Novy God attitude could advise Americans a affair or two about appearance January 1st.
“New Year’s Eve in America is for adolescent people, it’s like abecedarian hour,” he said. “I ambition Americans acclaimed the new year added like Russians, at home with ancestors and absolutely demography banal of things.”
Seisenkova Van Mater’s father, the anniversary meal’s appointed cook, additionally aggregate some acumen applicative for aloof about anybody this New Year. His approved and accurate adjustment to assistant a hangover? Pickle juice.
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