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Towards Happy 2001

Moscow, December 2000

    This story marks the end of the sixth year of Moscow Life project . Thirty eight illustrated reports have accumulated here at Friends and Partners over this long period and - I promise - there will be more. Thanks and greetings to all of you, my dear readers, thanks for your patience: I know that my postings are not as regular as they perhaps should be.

Grandfather Frost at the Red Sqaure invites us into the Third Millennium

   Anyway… This one you are reading right now is about the last month of year 2000. A year ago, people all over the world were arguing when the new century and new millennium actually begin, in 2000 or 2001. Russia, tired and not yet completely recovered from the crisis of 1998, has then decided that logic should prevail. Of course 2000 is a neat round number, but still the new century is supposed to start with the year one, not year zero. As a result, not much was said about the new millennium a year ago when we were meeting year 2000. This time, however, every poster in the street and every speech of our President tell about entering the new millennium. Well, if Russia traditionally celebrates Christmas 13 days after the rest of the world, why bother with celebrating a new millennium just one year after the others?

   So here we are, ready to enter the new century and the new millennium in December of 2000, a month dark and grayish, but full of hopes. Here are thirty new photos for you to look at. Happy New Year from Moscow - and from me personally!

As always in my stories here, you can zoom in on any picture. Just click on an image and a larger and better quality photo will open. Many of the photos are worth looking at in postcard size.

St. Basil in December 2000

   Unlike many other stories here and slightly against my own promises made at the home page of the project, you will see below quite a few images of traditional tourist attractions of Moscow. But this time it makes sense. On the First Night almost half a million of Muscovites (!) filled the downtown where all streets were closed for traffic so that people can dance, drink, and enjoy themselves in almost any possible manner. It's been a long time since people were celebrating the New Year so joyfully! It was something worth watching and taking part in.

   There will be lots of fur-trees in the photos - Moscow is full of them, only city authorities placed 300 of New Year Trees (we still call them this way, not Christmas trees) across the city, and shops, companies, restaurants added many more. For several weeks, Moscow looks like a decorated forest - and this is beautiful! For the first time after the revolution of 1917, a huge New Year tree appeared at the Red Square.

Trees by the Kremlin walls Also a tree - attracting shoppers in the GUM superstore A New Year tree at Stoleshnikov pereulok Corporate tree above the entrance to Lukoil headquarters

Gray days of December

   December is a dark month in Moscow, the city is located far enough North so that winter days are short and the sun never gets too high in the sky. This year, however, we did not see much sun, high or low. The weather was playing its dirty tricks - literally dirty! The skies were overcast almost all month long, and the only changes were in what they did pour on us - cold drizzle or thick and puffy snow.

   Fortunately, fresh snow is spectacular and magical even without sun, and it makes any gray day a little bit brighter.

Morning after a heavy snowfall, view from a balcony in a bedroom community Taking all that snow away Thick, thick snow fals onto Moscow Muddy streets

Street vendors protected from the elements Snow and puddles of December

   Temperature was jumping like a drunken student watching fireworks on the First Night. The title of my previous story here was too predictive - after very colorful October and November we entered a gray season, when short days quickly were shifting into bluish twilight - and then into night illuminated by yellow-orange city lights... And, of course, by more and more tiny blinking lamps of holiday lights.

   Biting cold Arctic winds could often overnight change to wet breathing of a European cyclone, melting the snow and covering the streets with treacherous and almost invisible film of a black ice. Yes, global warming can be a nasty thing!

Flower stands are like jewel boxes on epty night sidewalks Moscow Mayor Office illuminated for the New Year Endless traffic jams on holiday streets

   Bright trees and illuminated city landmarks made the city look wonderful all month. Muscovites were preparing for the holidays, and the spirit of New Year season was evident even on the busy weekdays.

Short blue twilight of December starts at 3 p.m. Peter the Great above freezing waters of Moskva river Russian churches look wonderful among the snow Christmas tree fair in Sokolniki

Champaign rivers in the bars and clubs

   The snow was bringing fun for the kids and troubles for the motorists. Only indoors, in Moscow clubs, cafes, and restaurants the weather did not interfere with the celebrations and parties that brought big profits to entrepreneurs in December. This month we had to make reservations if we wanted to spend a night at a good place. New Year parties were so popular and numerous that even places that are normally half-empty were full all the time. Excellent live music was playing, rivers of Champaign were flowing into endless glasses, Muscovites and the visitors were having more fun than in 11 previous months.

   Perhaps this spirit in the city more than any statistics shows that recovery after the crisis of 1998 has finally arrived. After 10 years of unstopping turmoil we have had one year of reasonable stability and even some positive changes. Looks like many Russians have noticed the fact.

Tough luck Kids love to play with the monument to Nikulin, a famous Russian clown, in front of Moscow circus Jazz playing at Le Club cafe

Figure skaters perform in the streets
Military band playing under the New Year tree at the Red Square

   ...And finally the time has come! The time of shows and performances, of passionate kissing in the streets, smiles and laughter; the time when overcast sky is colored by endless fireworks (tons of pyrotechnical gadgets were sold during this season), and the sounds of small blazing rockets do not stop for a moment even at night. I am typing this story on January 1, and low clouds behind the window glow with colors of fireworks, car alarms in the street responding to each rocket launch...

Rehearsal of the laser show at the Red Square

   The Red Square, formal and official all the year, now is hosting a huge laser show, a big military band is playing under a huge New Year tree, and even a skating rink is made in it for those who are capable to demonstrate their sports skills despite all the holiday drinks. Amateur figure skaters from city sports clubs show what a real skating should be - also in the squares of the downtown.

Pop groups perform at the street stages Laser show blue spots on ancient St. Basil Kisses by the New Year tree at Manezhnaya - Happy New Year! A few minutes before midnight, before the New 2001...: Lubyanka Square

   Year 2001 has come! My greetings and congratulations - and may the new year be lucky and truly happy for all of us. And I will do my best to tell you about its Russian events...

Andrey - asebrant@online.ru

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