The American-Russian Holiday Tree Connection by Roman Makhmutov

Yolka, meet Christmas Tree.

The beloved spruce tree has an interesting intersection of tradition between Russia and the USA. In Russia, it’s called the New Year’s Tree, or the Yolka, and is often decorated with ornaments, notably crowned with a Kremlin red star. The Yolka was formally banned during the Bolshevik Revolution, but in 1935, it was announced that children should no longer be deprived of the tradition and could have a secularized tree.

Not exactly secular, the American Christmas Tree is decorated with religious or winter themed ornaments that is set up in the family room to guard the presents. The Russian tradition is less about consumerism and more about marking the start of a new year.

To highlight the similarities, Russian photographer Roman Makhutov decided to photograph the people who sell these trees in both countries. His series, Treeumph, points us in the direction of those who make their living off of selling the prized trees.  


Makhutov explains, “This project digs into the typology of people who sell us Christmas and New Year Trees. Who are these people? Why did they come into this business? The same thing made with different intentions turns this happy holiday custom into the research of differences of economy and history between post-socialistic and capitalistic societies.”

The series highlight that it isn’t important why we gather around the tree, it’s that the tree brings us together.

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