Indigenous Peoples Are the First to Celebrate New Year in Russia



Chuckchi people celebrated the New Year overnight from 21 to 22 December. The day is called Pegytti and is seen as the beginning of a new cycle of life, with the Sun gradually adding a bit more daylight.

The Chukchi, or Chukchee are a Siberian ethnic group native to the Chukchi Peninsula, the shores of the Chukchi Sea and the Bering Sea region of the Arctic Ocean all within modern Russia. They speak the Chukchi language.

The name of the holiday – Pegytti - means "variegated cluster." The name comes from the ascent of a ceremonial star with the same name but that is referred to in modern astronomy as Altair.

Traditionally, the holiday begins with lighting a ritual fire and performing dances and songs with wishes of goodness and light. Shamans perform rituals and tell myths and legends on the festive night.

Pegytti is associated with the main occupation of the tundra Chukchi - reindeer herding.

The Chukchi perform a ritual of sacrifice to the spirits so that nothing bad happens in the coming year. Besides, as a thank you to the earth and the stars, the Chukchi spread cups filled with a sacred dish of reindeer meat and fat across the tundra.