While Christmas is usually celebrated on December 25, the Russian Orthodox Church still uses the Julian calendar to celebrate it on January 7. “The main winter celebration for most of the families in Russia is not Christmas but the New Year instead,” HE Lyudmila Georgievna Vorobieva, the Russian Ambassador to Indonesia, explained. “Of course, we still decorate our homes with a Christmas tree and put Christmas and New Year presents under the tree during the joyful festivities.”

Playing an important role in Russia’s holiday season is a range of mouthwatering and authentic cuisine that would make any tummy happy. There is the popular and traditional Olivier Salad—a light and refreshing Russian concoction of peas, potatoes, and eggs, all dressed with Viennese sauce to add a pleasing depth to the crisp salad. “During the festive season, we indulge our craving for sweets and pancakes by enjoying some blini, which are crêpe-like pancakes,” HE Lyudmila said. “You can fold them in triangles and dip them in tasty sour cream, or stuff them with sweet and savoury fillings, like sweet cheese or caviar.”

In 2006, while HE Lyudmila was in Bangkok, she was invited to Indonesia by the previous ambassador. After visiting Jakarta and Yogyakarta, they decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Bali. “After we landed, it was around 11pm when we hailed a taxi,” she said, sipping tea. “After less than half an hour, he was smiling at us and shouting ‘Happy New Year!’ while honking the car horn with other cars.” At first, she was confused about what had just happened before realising that they had forgotten to adjust to the new time zone. “We tried to keep straight faces, but in the end we just couldn’t help laughing while celebrating New Year in the taxi,” she smiled in closing.