New Year’s Eulogy

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I always listen to the song The Year Is Passing Away by Vadim Egorov, a wonderful author and performer (I don’t like the word “bard” in relation to the author’s song; for me it has a purely religious meaning: these were Celtic sages, sacred singers who paid tribute to the deeds of gods and kings), during the New Year celebrations. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends: empathy, isn’t it wonderful? It seems that these verses, set to music and performed to the rhythm of my favourite Portuguese fado, set the right mood for the event. With a slight sadness and at the same time a hidden hope for the best:

We are to drink from underground waters,

But as long as fate promises us good luck,

Let’s start the New Year and

Sing of the past year in verse and mourn it in our hearts…

We all remember how enthusiastically we looked forward to New Year’s holidays in childhood, which we associated with presents, and in school years – with the winter holidays. Skiing, sledding, joyful New Year parties with Father Frost and the Snow Maiden. And this popular call of mass entertainers to children: “Children, let’s shout all together: One, two, three, light the New Year tree!” I still keep New Year’s cards of my childhood, despite numerous moves round Europe…

In my student years I worked as a Father Frost -my height and diction were quite suitable. I had never agreed on the roles of snowmen, snowflakes or bunnies, despite the persuasion of the organisers of “collective New Year parties”… However, the festivity of the New Year celebrations was somewhat overshadowed by winter end-of-term exams. St Tatiana’s Day (25th January) was always compensation for that “long ordeal” – a long-standing university holiday and the first day of the holidays.

In my mature years as a journalist, I would prepare for the New Year with enthusiasm. I admit that it was sometimes not so easy. In the newspaper where I worked immediately after university as the junior employee I was charged, dressed in a long loose-fitting garment that vaguely resembled Father Frost’s scarlet coat, of going round my colleagues’ homes, congratulating their children, and delivering presents purchased for them by the trade union. Especially for this I prepared a life-affirming speech. However, neither it, nor even the grey cotton wool beard that I had put on saved me from failures. In the spirit of traditional Russian hospitality every parent wholeheartedly wanted to share with old Father Frost both his New Year’s joy and everything that adorned the festive table, including strong drinks. After visiting the third flat not only did I totally forget the congratulatory text, but also lost my “beard”.

However, I did not lose heart: after all, the New Year is our most optimistic and intoxicating holiday. No wonder Vadim Egorov wrote:

Having detached ourselves for an instant from earthly burdens,

Let’s smash the crystal of stillness into smithereens.

On New Year’s Day our destiny is

To glow on Earth like baubles on a Christmas tree.

Happy New Year, dear readers! Peace be with you!

Kirill Privalov

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