The Native communities of Alaska have long been influenced by Russian culture. During the 18th century, Russian traders and soldiers came to Alaska in search of furs. Many of the Russian religious observances, traditional foods, games, and celebrations were integrated into existing Native customs and continue to be joyously celebrated by community members.
This celebration is highlighted by a traditional play that includes multiple performers representing the transition into the new year, resulting in uproarious fun and merriment.
In the play, there are personified characters, which include the New Year, Old Year, 12 Months (calendar girls), Old Ladies and Military Police. The new year celebration play represents a game between the New Year and Old Year. The New Year is trying to wear out the Old Year with the help of his trusty Military Police. Other characters such as the mischievous Old Ladies and 12 Months (calendar girls) take pity on the Old Year. In the villages where this play is practiced, the characters get hectic and rough with one another. At the end of the play the actors will dance with one another known as the Dance of Forgiveness. Celebrations like Russian New year take place during the harsh and cold winter months and serves as a chance for the communities to come together and celebrate the New year during the holiday season.