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Russians prefer to pop corks at home to salute New Year, get used to long holidays

December 28, 2011, 15:54 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

Most Russians will spend ten-day-long New Year Holidays at home, treating guests and themselves to the favorite beverage – sparkling wines, which, despite French protests they keep calling Champagne. In the meantime, the sanitary authorities have advised everybody to avoid hard drinking and to do sports instead. Only a tiny share of the population will travel abroad – mostly to exotic countries and warm seas. The people of Russia expect that the new year will bring them more good things than bad things. Their optimism is unbeatable.

The January 2012 holidays in Russia will last from December 31 to January 9 to include New Year and Orthodox Christmas celebrations. It is for five years now that the people of Russia have enjoyed a long vacation at the beginning of the year. At first many were not very happy about such a generous gift from the national parliament. Some had no idea of how to use so many days off in a row properly. Most Russians do not have the money to travel abroad, so they spent the time gorging on Christmas meals and drinking. But over the years they have got used to it and become more resourceful in choosing ways to spend the spare time.

According to a poll by the research center of the recruitment portal, with every year the number of those who like long New Year Holidays has been growing. Over the past year it has been up from 53% to 65%.

Most of the polled are certain that the long holidays are a very good occasion to travel, socialize, spend more time with the family and do a pile of delayed chores. For many the long holidays are an excellent occasion to have a good sleep and just take one’s time.

The critics of the holidays (20% of the polled), argue that the long holidays relax themselves too much, and also hit them in the pocket.

“I believe that January 1, 2 and 3 would be quite enough to celebrate the beginning of the new year and Christmas. The other days are a sheer waste of time,” says an angry respondent. The portal’s researchers say that critics of the long holidays are most frequent in the age group over 45 (38%).

The national public opinion studies center VTSIOM has found out what sort of feelings Russians have on the eve of 2012.

According to an opinion poll, one-third of Russians are saying good-bye to the outgoing year and looking forward to the new year with optimism (34%). Half of the polled say, however, that they feel neither an emotional upturn nor depression. Pessimists this time are in the minority. The number of pessimistically-minded has been down to a record-low of 10% since 2008.

The country’s people are ever more optimistic about their future – 65% expect that 2012 will be good for them (in contrast to 2009 – 49%).

The VTSIOM also tried to find out where Russians are planning to celebrate the New Year. Most of those questioned said that by tradition they would stay at home (72%). A year ago such people numbered 76%. There are ever more those eager to go and visit friends – their number has been up from 12% to 16% over the past three years. The other options are less popular, just as before – the restaurant (club or disco) is the choice of 3%, a trip to the dacha, of 2%, and a holiday in the countryside, of 1%.

The average sum that is to be spent on festive preparations has been up by 12% this year in contrast to last year. Now it averages 6,953 rubles (more than 200 dollars). Gifts remain the most costly spending item – respondents plan to spend on New Year presents nearly 2,500 rubles.

On the list of New Year presents to relatives and friends souvenirs take the top line (31%), sweets, delicacies and alcohol are next (29%), followed by toys (25%) perfumery, body care products and fashion jewelry (23%). Then there go those who plan to give cash 10%), clothes and footwear (10%), household appliances (7% each), mobile phones (5%). The share of those who have no intention to give gifts to anyone has fallen to an all-time record-low (10% against 12%-16% in the previous years).

What would Russians like to get as presents? The most wanted gift is cash (15% against 10% a year ago). The respondents would also like to get perfumery, makeup kits, and costume jewelry (11%), souvenirs, sweets and delicacies, (9% each), jewelry or a travel voucher (8% each). Seven percent wish to have a car, or photo-, audio or video equipment. Only 1%, though, is prepared to give a car as a gift.

According to VTSIOM, less than 1% of Russians will spend the holiday abroad. According to the travel agencies, the New Year tourist flow has split in three – those who go to “winter sun” countries to lie in the sun and swim in the sea; tourists who prefer Alpine skiing; and those who go to Europe for the traditional Christmas atmosphere. The warm climate enthusiasts are in the majority. The number of beach tourists outnumbers the fans of European itineraries by 50%.

Egypt has remained in the lead despite the unrest, although the overall decline in the tourist flow to that country has reached 40%. Thailand is second. Tour operators believe that after the New Year holidays that country would probably get ahead of Egypt by the number of guests from Russia. Then there follows the “exotic group” – Cuba, Dominican Republic, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Goa.

Itineraries inside Russia are also in great demand, even though prices at tourist facilities around Moscow are close to Austria or Israel. Domestic tourism is on the rise. The offers of Black Sea resorts and tours of the Golden Ring were booked virtually in no time.

On the eve of the New Year the sociologists conducted a poll devoted to Russian’s choice of beverages for the festive table. It has turned out that most cannot imagine a New Year feast without sparkling wines. This was the answer of 66% of the respondents, which is 9% more than last year.

An absolute majority of Russians (87%) will have alcohol on their tables on New Year’s eve. Exclusively soft drinks will be on the tables of 13% of citizens – mostly young people aged 18-24.

In the meantime, the chief of the consumer rights watchdog, Gennady Onishchenko, has advised one and all against abusing alcohol and called for using the holidays to quit bad habits.

“A large group of our population, in particular, those in the active age group, have the illusion that with the help of alcohol they will be taking during the long holidays they will be able to get rid of the effects of stress accumulated over the whole year,” Onishchenko told the media. “This is a very harmful illusion.”

The chief sanitary doctor warns that heavy drinking throughout the New Year holidays would leave no chance of recreation, but on the contrary, would drive the problem deeper into the body. Therefore he advises to be moderate in using alcohol. “Several hours of alcohol-fuelled optimism aren’t worth it,” he said.

Also, Onishchenko asked one and all to use the New Year Holidays to quit all bad habits, including smoking. Instead, the chief sanitary doctor advised to do winter sports.

“Skating, just staying outdoors, in Moscow or in the countryside, is the optimal and balanced, natural type of recreation,” he said.


MOSCOW, December 28