Lazarov well remembers the first year when he wanted to celebrate the civil New Year in Israel, and asked where he could buy a fir tree. The reactions were hostile. They told him that it wasn’t nice, they reprimanded him, saying that it was a Christian custom, they told him it was forbidden. “We felt a bit like in Russia,” laughs Lazarov, “but there the prohibitions originated in the government, and here they originated with the neighbors. There it was dangerous to go to the synagogue even in the 1980s, here it was simply unpleasant to buy a fir tree. We understood that we had to do everything almost secretly. The Jews in Russia who wanted to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur also had to do so secretly.”
A Happy Novy God (without god) - Haaretz Daily Newspaper
For most of the immigrants, Novy God is a reminder of a pleasant tradition in the countries of the former Soviet Union, which didn’t provide many causes for celebration. For the vast majority there is no connection between the fir tree and Christmas, which marks the birth of Jesus. Most were never exposed to this connection in the Soviet Union, which lacked religious symbols. The fir tree is simply a beautiful winter tree that provides a nice decoration for the home. Even Santa Claus is foreign to them. They have Grandfather Frost, who comes not from Lapland but from the forests, and his granddaughter Snow White, who distributes presents to the children. “That was the only holiday that the Bolsheviks didn’t succeed in endowing with an alternative ideological character,” says Lazarov. “So that we received a totally natural holiday.