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Russian New Year Postcards


1983

During the Soviet years, Christmas celebrations were not allowed in Russia and the Soviet Union. New Year's celebrations that were similar to Christmas celebrations elsewhere began in the 1930s. Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) took the place of Santa Claus at children's parties. He was given a grandaughter, called Snegurochka (Snow Girl or Snow Maiden), to help him. At first the New Year holiday was for children, but later it became a holiday for everyone.

In the 1950s, there were some colorful greeting postcards in a Soviet realist style. A real revival of Russian greeting postcards occured in the 1960s. Although the artwork became more modern and international in style, the themes often show typical aspects of the Soviet and Russian culture. Many of the designs also show a decorative folk art influence.

Russians began celebrating Christmas again in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. However, the New Year holiday remains much more important.

You don't need to know the Russian language to enjoy Russian New Year postcards. Almost all of the cards have the same phrase on the front:

с новым годом

This is pronounced SNO-vim GO-dahm and is translated as Happy New Year, literally "With New Year." Occasionally, there is some propaganda mixed in with the New Year greetings. Other words can be translated with a combination of a website where you can type Russian letters without a Russian keyboard (e.g. http://russian.typeit.org/ ) and the Google translator.

The postcard style of New Year greeeting card was very popular. Most of the cards are dated and have the artist's name (художник) on the back. Many of the postcards have imprinted postage stamps on the back and © USSR Ministry of Communications (Министерство связи СССР). The postcard below of Ded Moroz, whom I will call "Santa" for convenience, is an example from 1978. This postcard has preprinted postage and spaces for the postcode (on left side), address, addressee, and return address. The artist's name is in the upper left corner. Dangling from the scroll are the words "ПОЧТА СССР" or "POST USSR."


1978

Another type had a plain back with information and instructions at the bottom to "only send in an envelope" or "mail-open form can not be." Below is an example from 1980 with this message written in English:

This is a typical Soviet New Years card. There are many diffetent styles, but each shop has only a few. When a shop with good cards opens - everyone, including me, lines up to capture a few of the beauties.


1980

A third type of Russian New Year card that is often classified with postcards is the "double card." Double cards are close to postcards in size when folded.


1986

Some common themes on Russian New Year postcards are Santas, Snow Girls, Troikas, Snowmen, People, Animals, Space, Winter Scenes, Postal Mail, and Decorations. Of course, there is a lot of overlap among these categories. Many, perhaps most, cards exhibit more than one of these themes. Thus, there are Santas with Snow Girls, Santas driving troikas, Snow Girls with animals, etc. Little bluebirds or bullfinches often appear as part of the scene. These birds are symbols of good luck and happiness. Clocks with their hands near midnight appear as symbols of time and the New Year.

Many of the designs on the New Year's cards include snowflakes, starbursts, swirls, and/or plumes. These elements give the cards a sparkly and dynamic look. Red Soviet stars usually top the New Year trees.


1979

The examples I have to show are not a random sample of Russian New Year cards. They include a lot of what I like best--cards that look distinctly Russian such as ones with Snegurochka and troikas. I also especially like cards showing letters, mail, and stamps. I don't have many with everyday people or generic holiday decorations.

DED MOROZ - GRANDFATHER FROST - SANTA

Most of the Santas look more like a traditional old-fashioned European Santa than a chubby American Santa. They usually wear a long red robe that is often decorated with embroidery. Sometimes the robes are other colors, especially blue.


1987

Russian Santas don't just bring gifts; they also deliver mail. They are shown with a variety of modes of transportation. Here Santa is arriving by train with a sack of mail and a New Year tree. Note the small red Soviet star atop the tree.


1979


SNEGUROCHKA - SNOW GIRL - SNOW MAIDEN

Snegurochka is Santa's grandaughter and helper. She can be either a girl or a young woman. She usually has a long blonde braid and is dressed in blue or red with a traditional style kokoshnik headdress.


1967


1974


TROIKAS

Russian Santas don't drive sleighs pulled by reindeer. They drive traditional Russian troikas. The troika is a sleigh pulled by three horses harnessed abreast. The middle horse trots while the side horses gallop.


1968


1976


SNOWMEN

Snowmen often wear buckets for hats. This jolly snowman is delivering New Year's greetings to city residents. The envelope sticking out of the top of his mail bag is addressed to Moscow, and the card in his hand says "Congratulations!"


1961


1964 .



PEOPLE

Ded Moroz and Snegurochka are surrounded by partygoers.

The child-size worker is wishing you "Happy New Year, with new labor successes. "


1981

This lady mail carrier is wearing a folk style costume with a lovely flowered shawl.


1981


ANIMALS

Hares, bear, and foxes are the most common animals on Russian New Year postcards. Most of the animals that appear on cards seem to have their origins in fairy tales.

A little boy leads this little parade of animals and toys. The fox is carrying a basket with a rooster and a pig. The hare is carrying a matryoska doll and pulling a sled with Buratino, the Russian version of Pinocchio.


1964

Misha, the bear mascot of the Moscow 1980 Olympic Summer Games, appeared on some 1979 New Year postcards. You can tell that he is the Olympic mascot because his belt is decorated with the Olympic rings. The lettering on the banner is START spelled with Russian letters (C=S and P=R).


1979

The animals gather around the samovar for some warm tea.


1985


SPACE

The cosmonauts on Russian New Year cards are generally child size. Sometimes Santa is shown with a cosmonaut or by himself in space.

The 1962 spaceman is sending New Year greetings back to earth.


1961

The lettering on the red rocket земля-венера is translated as Earth-Venus.


1968


1973


WINTER SCENES


1975


1981


POSTAL MAIL

There are quite a few New Year postcards showing envelopes, greeting cards, and mail delivery. Some of these are quite fanciful. There are also postcards showing postage stamps.


1972


1980


DECORATIONS


1972


1974


This YouTube video shows a collection of Soviet New Year Postcards from 1968 to 1990.


This is a video I made with my Snegurochka and Ded Moroz postcards.

 


LINKS

Vintage Christmas Card Collection - Large collection.

Old Soviet Christmas Cards Collector

New Year's and Christmas Picture Cards of the 1950S - 1980S - Santas

New Year's Post Cards of 1957 - The National Library of Russia

Old Soviet New Year Cards

Old Soviet New Year's Postcards

Russian New Year: Vintage Holiday Postcards

Russian Postcards & Christmas/New Year New Year - Flickr Pool

Soviet Postcards Collection on Flickr

Russian Christmas Traditions: Myths, Mistakes, and Misconceptions

Revival of Russian New Year Cards and Holidays


 

 

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