Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Of Superstitions and Resolutions

It was supposed to be a very American New Year’s eve, a night out with friends, ringing in 2011 in a cloud of noise and alcohol, amidst packs of kids dashing across numerous rooms, clinking champagne glasses in the midst of crazy dancing and screaming. Instead, our daughter got sick, last-minute — recurrent strep throat — and we ended up greeting the new year on the couch: Toy Story 3, playing truth-or-dare with our kids, dancing a little just the four of us.  

If you go along with the Russian New Year superstitions (see my previous post: https://katiaraina.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/how-to-celebrate-the-new-year-russian-style/), then what does that sort of party bid for the year that stretches ahead?

It’s hard not to wonder. And hard not to worry, a little. Hard for someone like me — having been raised in Russia — a country of deep superstitions — and coming from a Jewish family (more superstitions still).

Spit three times over your left shoulder when you say something you want to come true.

If you forget your hat or your purse on the way out the door, and return home to grab it, be sure to look at yourself in the mirror if you want an auspicious trip.

If your ears feel hot, someone’s cursing you out, or gossiping about you.

If you drop a fork or a spoon, someone (of a female gender) is on their way to your house right now. If you drop a knife — then it’s a male.

Lucky charms, guardian animals, the right way to greet the New Year’s. I am wondering if maybe it’s time to start letting some of those go. I think maybe it’s part of letting go of control and fear, and trusting in Destiny more.

This year, I am replacing the superstitions with resolutions:

Wake up one hour earlier every day of the week  (except on Shabbat, Saturday mornings, and maybe vacations and holidays) to get a head-start on writing.

 Blog, Facebook and e-mail at the end of the day, after all the writing is done.

Try to finish all your work before the kids get home, so you can give them your full attention.

 Finish not one but two whole manuscripts this year! (well, one of them is almost done).

I am hoping that doing this will carry me farther in 2011 than those silly Year of the Rabbit superstitions I have blogged about before. Still, even as I write this today, on the first day of the year, I am wearing my special magic Rabbit sweater. Just in case.




January 1, 2011 Posted by | Personal Mirror | , | 4 Comments

How to celebrate the New Year, Russian-style

Since Soviet Russia wasn’t allowed to officially celebrate Christmas, we had to have some other major holiday. And it had to be big. Huge. BETTER than Christmas. Thus was born the Soviet New Year, honestly THE BEST holiday EVER.

Think Halloween with its costumes and candy. Add to it Christmas with its dressed-up evergreens and loads of presents. Then sprinkle freely with the regular New Year traditions as you know it — the festive partying all night long, the  champagne, the countdown, the fireworks. And most importantly, don’t forget the Chinese New Year — a new animal patron watching over every successive year, determining your luck. Finally, toss in Russia’s own deep superstitions.     

And you get a holidaygreat for everyone — from families with young kids, to love-stuck teens, to 20-something singles. You get a holiday that outlasted the Soviet empire itself!   

You get the holiday of my childhood — one that I too have trouble growing out of. 🙂                     


I think the most addictive part of it isn’t even all the fun — it’s the superstition. The kind Russians have always been famous for — and which only intensified in the Soviet period when religion wasn’t sanctioned.

According to the New Year tradition which had taken such firm hold on me, what you do on New Year’s eve and on the first morning of the new year will determine how you spend the entire year. What you wear and eat, who you spend your time with, it all matters too. While American Christians are shopping around for better outdoor lights, and the Jews hunt for fancier electric Hanukkah menorahs to display in their windows, Russians buy up little animal figures at the stores, to surround themselves with the image of the lucky animal, and check the major newspapers for horoscopes and instructions on how to best celebrate on the New Year’s eve.

What are you doing this New Year’s?

And what are you hoping for?


The rabbit will supposedly (and HOPEFULLY) bring us all a peaceful year and generally a much happier year for the entire world, after the combative exhaustive Tiger of 2010. (Not that it was bad or anything. To me, at least, this passing year had been filled with great highlights. it’s just been a bit DIFFICULT. Which may have been a good thing, for it toughened me up EVEN MORE, and made me work harder than ever.)

According to the Chinese and Russian horoscopes, 2011 just might be the year when patience, hard work and good deeds pay off (but bragging, showing off, intolerance and aggression generally do not). It is best to greet this year in the colors of the rabbit — white, gray or light brown. God save you if you decide to have rabbit for dinner though, or wear a rabbit fur hat. (Rabbit won’t like it!)

Whatever you do this New Year’s eve then — make sure you don’t fight — or, I don’t know, do something lame like watch soap operas! Make sure you hug your loved ones when the clock strikes twelve, and if you must be separated from someone you love, at least think of them, or call them.

 Stay happy, and meet this year with joy! Then, at the end, let me know what great fortunes the Rabbit brought you!

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Contemporary History, Politics and Religion, The U.S.S.R. | , , , , | 9 Comments