Celebrate the New Year with AEGEE-Kyiv and AEGEE-Moskva… two countries, two Capital Cities!

There are many things that make the upcoming “Capital Cities” event special. For the first time in a great while (or, at least, as far as we can remember!), a New Year’s Event will take place in two countries by two AEGEE locals.

The lucky participants that will be selected will also have the chance to experience two different celebrations. But probably the most remarkable thing – this is an event organised by a Ukrainian local (AEGEE-Kyïv) and a Russian one (AEGEE-Moskva), proving that young people from both countries are willing to cooperate and are close friends. And all of it, in a very hipster-ish visual identity!

The AEGEEan spoke to Ksenia Lupanova and Mitya Blockhin, members of AEGEE-Moskva, and Anna Pykhtina, from AEGEE-Kyiv.

The AEGEEan: How did you come up with the idea of organising this event?

Ksenia Lupanova (AEGEE-Moskva): I think it started a long time ago, discussing events with our friends… but it actually happened this summer, I don’t even remember who started this topic. We realized that it would be a cool idea, two countries, two celebrations, two antennae… no matter what, just organize it together, as we have a lot of friends in AEGEE-Kyiv!

Anna Pykhtina (AEGEE-Kyiv): Ksenia and I have been friends for a long time, we met in 2013 at Network Meeting Lviv, later she was an organiser of our Travel Summer University “The Big Kyiv Theory”, and then we were together in all Statutory events – Agorae, the European Boards’ Meeting… and afterwards,  we met with other AEGEE-Moskva members, we realized that an event together would be such an amazing, unbelievable and brave idea! And without any hesitations, we started to brainstorm and discuss!

Two capital cities, two celebrations… which two special celebrations will participants experience?

Mitya Blockhin (AEGEE-Moskva): The first one is the New Year’s Eve celebration which is considered to be the most important holiday in Russia and Ukraine. I don’t want to show all our cards yet, I will just point out that the fireworks above the Red Square covered with snow are something magical!

Anna: The second one is the traditional celebration of the Orthodox Christmas. Svjata Vecherya, or “Holy Supper”, is the central tradition of the Christmas Eve celebrations in Ukrainian homes. The dinner table sometimes has a few hay wisps on the embroidered table cloth, as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem.

The coolest thing in Kyiv will be the traditional Ukrainian Christmas which is celebrated in the evening of 6th of January. There are many traditions – we will have to cook 12 different dishes, fortune telling and also.. go to banya (sauna)! And my grandma agreed to share secrets of divination, so I can’t wait!

Which ones will be the main highlights of the program, according to you?

Ksenia: According to me, I would say the celebrations of New Year’s Eve and the Orthodox Christmas, but more remarkable to me is the night when we will cross the border in a night train. First of all, because I am a fan of the Transsiberian Dream, trains, and that atmosphere. It is incredible to have this possibility at the half of the event, to get everybody inside the wagon! It is a perfect change between programs, two busy and huge metropolis, the time to play all our favourites get-to-know games, talks and something participants will never forget!

Anna: I agree with Ksenia, seeing AEGEEans in our trains is lots of fun and always an unforgettable experience! One of the coolest highligths in the program is showing two countries in one event – there are so many things said about Russia and Ukraine, our relations, why not come and see everything by yourself?

And how would you briefly describe the best things of both cities?

Mitya: Moscow is a unique city, the whole history of Russia (sometimes glorious, sometimes terrible but always dramatic and complicated) is reflected in its architecture. Every district has its own atmosphere and walking through the city is like travelling in time where the domes of the old churches, the tops of the Seven Sisters and the Kremlin stars are the beacons leading you through the ages. Moscow can be busy and calm, huge and cozy, rude and friendly, so different and so similar. So, basically, as Russia itself.

Anna: Kyiv was the historic cultural centre of the East Slavic civilisation and a major cradle for the Christianisation of Kievan Rus’. The modern Kyiv is a mix of the old and the new, seen in everything from the architecture to the stores and to the people themselves. Khreshchatyk and Maidan Nezalezhnosti – the place where the real fight for democracy took place,  Andriyivskyy Descent (Ukrainian Monmartyr) with its romantic mood,  St. Sophia’s Cathedral and the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves), which are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage sites – and that is not all! Kyiv is different but kind and friendly city with many places for young people. And although Kyiv is smaller than Moskva, we won’t have time to see all of its beauty and you will have to come back again!

What is the story behind the “hipster”-ish visuals of the event?

AEGEE-Moskva & AEGEE-Kyiv: Well, when the name “Capital Cities” (as a famous band) appeared, it was already clear to try this direction. At first it was just a joke, we were making fun of all that hipster theme but at a certain moment we realized that, by opposing ourselves to this new mainstream trend, we didn’t differ that much from the people we were kidding about. So we accepted our hipster nature and c’était parti. What is more, when we saw for the first time a hipster thematic costume party, we were impressed how much opportunities and creativity people can use.  Moreover,  Moskva and Kyiv are cities with a very dense concentration of hipsters per square metre!

And how are AEGEE-Kyiv and AEGEE-Moskva preparing together the event?

Ksenia: As we agreed on concept, the visual design, the budget and the program division, now we are in process of selecting participants. As you could mention we create awesome an awesome PR program for Agora Cagliari – and a promo video, which was recorded in both cities!

We will polish our programmes separately, but regarding common points, like games, welcome packs and celebration of both holidays – we are discussing every single detail! Also, as I managed to pass through Kyiv on my way to Brussels, I will have α meeting with AEGEE-Kyiv organisers, and we will discuss details about them coming to the part in Moscow and of course more ideas! By the way, we are actually cooperating with answering your questions in one single on-line document right now.

Some people might fear high prices and visa issues, what would you tell them?

Anna: It is the first New Year’s Event that will take place in two countries, the fee includes the train ticket, staying in hostels, private housing, sauna, activities and so much more! And with AEGEE-Moskva you can get visa for free! And at the moment the currency exchange is so freakingly high that you will feel yourself like a king!

And, in just a couple of sentences: what would you tell someone who is doubting to apply?   

Mitya: Have you ever felt sad about celebrating NYE only once a year? Have you ever travelled by train for more than six hours? Are you interested in knowing if you are going to be rich and what the name of your future spouse is? No? Well, you have got a chance (and there will be no second one!) to celebrate NYE eleven times in one day, to spend some 12 hours on a night train and to know everything you ever wanted to know about your future at Christmas night. Do not hesitate, apply! #hatersgonnahate, #aegeeansgonnaorginize!

Written by Anna Gumbau, AEGEE-Barcelona