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Author Topic: A Snowy Eastern Christmas  (Read 61905 times)

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Offline BelleZeBoob

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #375 on: January 01, 2011, 03:16:10 PM »
(Attachment Link)


Of course the tradition in most Russian homes is to watch the movie "The Irony of Fate" (subtitled "Enjoy Your Bath").

It's a fun movie and worth the several hours it takes to watch. To understand the signifance of Russian apartment living this movie is one of the best teaching tools around!
 

To this, I could note that Nadya, incarnated by the Polish actress Barbara Brylska, became an idol for generations of Russian women.
Of note, Poland was not another Soviet Republic, as some Westerners tend to think, but a sovereign state in Eastern Europe under USSR control. To get to Poland, a Russian would still need a visa with respective interviews at Communist Party offices under Soviet regime. Polish were therefore not quite Soviet for the West, and for us Russians - not Soviet at all :)

Polish women historically were seen by Russians as some special female creatures. They were more Western than us, partially because they were Catholic, because they could travel more freely to the West then we could, and because they had a more developed consumer market system thus had access to many beautiful things which were out of reach for us Russians.
Barbara Brylska essentially epitomized this image.
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Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #376 on: January 01, 2011, 09:31:38 PM »
Belle, thats right I had forgotten that she was Polish. Thank you for this excellent contextual information as it helps us better understand the film and the culture of that time.   tiphat


If memory serves correctly, the street that was duplicated in Moscow and Leningrad for the movie actually existed but was later renamed after Lenin's mother (?) I think.

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #377 on: January 02, 2011, 07:14:04 PM »
Review: The Irony of Fate

Svetlana Smetanina is a Russian journalists, a graduate of Moscow State University and has worked at “Kommersant,” “Gazeta,” and “Moscow News.” Her professional interests cover a wide range of topics. She writes articles on politics, psychology and personal relationships. But most of all, she enjoys writing about everyday life. For the last year and a half, she has written the column “Surprised by Russia,” which she herself conceived. In her own words, she would like to tell foreign readers about the things that often escape the attention of the serious media. In the first instance, this is the everyday life of Russians with all its problems, sometimes serious, sometimes funny. She is sure that Russia will never cease to surprise the world.

Surprised by Russia is her blog and the name of a regular column in Russia Beyone the Headlines, http://rbth.ru/blogs/surprised.


If you ask any Russian what was the good of perestroika, most would probably mention the opportunity to travel around the world and the long holiday break over New Year’s holiday. All the other supposed benefits—freedom of speech, democracy, or the chance to make a lot of money—have some drawbacks, but New Year’s vacation is an indisputably good thing.

You may be shocked to hear this, but during the Soviet era, there was no New Year’s holiday break at all. Dec. 31 was a regular workday, maybe cut short by a few hours, Jan. 1 was a day off and on Jan. 2, everyone happily went back to work. But then came perestroika, and the rest is history.

First, Jan. 7, Christmas according to the Russian Orthodox calendar, became a public holiday; then the authorities put their heads together and decided that, since the gap between New Year’s and Christmas was pretty small anyway, why not close that gap with days off from work. The people were only too happy to oblige.

It’s a miracle that they didn’t extend the holiday period to Jan. 13, New Year’s according to the Julian calendar used in Russia before the 1917 revolution. The Russians still celebrate it out of tradition as “Old New Year’s.” All told, every foreigner working with Russians should know that it is pointless to schedule any meetings during the entire month of January.

Of course, not everyone is happy. Some have called time and again for canceling the holiday break altogether, citing an assortment of scary facts. For example, many people run out of things to do and resort to drinking; or, husbands and wives grow so sick of each other that once the holidays are over, they run out to file for divorce rather than report to work. These deplorable facts may be grounded in reality, but the idea of abolishing the holidays has failed to attract many supporters.

When backed into a corner, most Russians will admit to the real reason the holiday break must continue: Russians become so lazy during the winter break that making them work again would be all but impossible. The myth of Russian sloth is so entrenched that it deserves special attention, especially as it’s rooted in the popular embrace of celebrations.

Russians indeed love their holidays, which they tend to celebrate in style, with lots of friends and a great feast. But are Russians really so lazy?  Could a nation full of do-nothings have been able to develop such a huge country stretching from St. Petersburg all the way to Siberia, filling it with cities and highways along the way? As a matter of fact, the difference between the European and Russian attitude toward work is the key. For a person from the West, especially one who grew up in a Protestant family, labor is above all a virtue, a way to earn honor and respect. For a Russian who is accustomed to toiling all year round in rather harsh climatic conditions, labour is not valor, but rather a necessity for survival.

What can distract a person from days of hard work better than a holiday? If given an opportunity to enjoy even the shortest possible break from work, a Russian will use it to the fullest. It would take another socialist revolution to make him pass on it.

But back to New Year’s. This holiday has a number of must-do rituals, such as drinking champagne when the Kremlin clock strikes midnight. This tradition goes back to the 1960s, when Russia started producing its own sparkling wine. At first, the unspoiled Soviet people perceived this as “la dolce vita.” But now everyone has grown accustomed to it and plays along, even if they would prefer a different type of drink at any other time of the year.

A more inexplicable New Year’s tradition also started in the Soviet Union: Watching the movie “The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!” on New Year’s Eve. If any foreigner would like to understand the “enigmatic Russian soul,” this film is a must-see. The plot is as follows: four friends go to a public bathhouse on New Year’s Eve; this is also a popular custom rooted in the washing away of all the problems of the passing year. At the bathhouse, the friends get absolutely plastered and mistakenly send the main character, Zhenya, on a plane to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).

The one-hour flight isn’t enough time for him to sober up, and as he exits the airport completely sloshed, he tells the cab driver his Moscow address. It so happens that the same street address exists in Leningrad. Not only that, the key also fits the lock, which is no wonder, given the Soviet Union’s so-called standardized housing, which meant that many housing blocks were literally identical to each other. Still drunk, Zhenya doesn’t realize he’s in someone else’s apartment, and goes to bed. Naturally, the real owner of the apartment, a pretty young woman, Nadya, shows up soon afterwards. Instead of calling the cops, she starts talking up the tipsy intruder. Then she takes pity on him, grows to like him, and lets him stay. And all the while she has a fiancé – a respectable, reliable man. At the end, Nadya, dumps her proper but dull husband-to-be and boards a flight to Moscow to be with Zhenya.

When an Italian friend of mine first saw this movie, his reaction was, “what a load of bull!” From a Western standpoint, it’s impossible to understand why you would substitute a drunkard for a teetotaler fiancé or destroy your already laid out plans in life for that matter. But Russians prefer emotions to logic when it comes to guiding principles. And from an emotional point of view, Nadya preferred a sudden love with obscure implications to a predictable routine. Frankly, every Russian dreams of just that deep in their heart. Perhaps not necessarily of love, but of a miracle that would disrupt their habitual but so ordinary lives. Men dream of meeting a beautiful and understanding woman like Nadya on New Year’s Eve. Women dream of finding in their bed not a familiar and boring guy, but a charming Zhenya, even though he might be drunk at first. That’s why the Russians seldom plan far ahead. Westerners working in Russia call it unpredictability and get very irritated. But all Russians do is leave room for a chance to strike, or for fate to do its magic.

So I raise my New Year’s toast to the irony of fate, thanks to which all happy changes in our lives occur! As the popular saying goes, “All’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” We just may not understand it at first.


(Svetlana Smetanina)


Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #378 on: January 02, 2011, 08:10:05 PM »
Earlier in our Snowy Eastern Christmas chronicles we traveled along with Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden as they made their rounds on a typical New Years day. This time we're going to pile into the RUAmobile and travel to the home of Grandfather Frost in the far northern Russian city of Устюг Великий (Veliky Ustyug).

Just load your things into the bright red RUAmobile and we'll be hitting the road soon.





Once a major city of the North, Viliky Ustyug today is home to about 36,000 souls and barely resembles its glory days of the past. One this is certain however, all roads at Christmas lead to the home of Grandfather Frost.





You'll soon realize how far north it is as we experience an almost never ending uphill incline, always climbing as the bus strives to make it thru the snow. There are no modern European or American styled autoways in this part of Russia.





The first mention of Veliky Ustyug in historic literature was in the year 1207.

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #379 on: January 02, 2011, 09:21:30 PM »
It is possible to come by train via Moscow, St. Petersburg, Arkhangelsk and stop at the little station Yadriha (Vorkuta, Labytnangy, Kotlas, Syktyvkar) and then by bus to town. However that is a very slow route and you'll make better time by debarking at Vologda and there catch direct bus service to Ustyug. Even thought longer in km/miles, as the "crow flies" the Vologda option shaves about 3 hours off the travel time.

We don't normally advise going all the way by private car for a couple of reasons. First, it's 450 km just from Vologda in some very remote highway conditions and you must cross the Northern Dvina river either by pontoon ferry or via the bridge over Sukhona (open only 6x daily). Second, because it's so far away from Moscow and St Petersburg the local road police, who are very keyed in on non local travelers, will turn the experience into a "toll road" experience, usually more than once in the final hours of approach. RUA administrator Manny often calls this mode of transit to be the "friendly way" of settling things with local traffic police. Have your wallet out and open for frequent police stops when traveling alone by car.





The highway towards the town is uniquely marked. Overhead to the left we see the town name, Великий Устюг and to the right is the phrase Вотчина Дед Мороз (Votchina = Estate and Ded Moroz = Grandfather Frost) or "Grandfather Frost estate."





Now on the local road towards town we do wish to share this bit of good news: The "Great Ustyug" area is renowned for the quality of water from local artesian springs. Because of the quality of the water, a local brewery makes vodka used primarily in the Kremlin Grand Palace. (Dang, there is water in vodka?! I thought it was all alcohol and bleached windshield washing fluid!)

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #380 on: January 02, 2011, 10:00:14 PM »
The city overview:






Approach from the river in daylight:






Approach from the river at night:





Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #381 on: January 02, 2011, 10:09:55 PM »
We've traveled well over 24 hours north of Moscow on snow covered icy roads to arrive here so when the RUA tour continues we'll take some time to visit the town and the home estate of Grandfather Frost!

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #382 on: January 03, 2011, 11:05:09 PM »
Some of you watched the brief New Year address of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the people of Russia just moments before the clock on the Kremlin's Saviour tower chimed in the new year.

Both of these events are traditional. The annual address dates back in the 1970's during Soviet times and the Saviour Tower clock has long been the "official" clock of the New Year in Russia.

In case you watch that brief address but didn't catch all the Russia language, here is the text, compliments of the Mendeleyev Journal:

Citizens of Russia, Friends,

Very soon, as the Kremlin tower chimes strike twelve, 2010 will pass into history, and with it the first decade of the 21st century. As we see the old year out, we remember its joyful and sad moments, and hope that next year will be good and successful for all of us and for our country. We will build a modern Russia together, a strong, open and friendly country.

We have a rich and ancient history, and we are rightly proud of it. At the same time Russia is a young country: in the coming year it will be only twenty years old. That is no great age for a country, but the children born in the new Russia have already grown up. The way we live in the second decade of this century will depend on them, too.

Everything we do, we do for our children, to make sure that they are healthy and successful, and the country they live in is safe, prosperous and happy, a country that respects its elders, cherishes its multiethnic traditions, and is committed to achieving new goals. I am confident that is our future.

Dear friends, the New Year’s holiday has its own unique atmosphere. This holiday is filled with a special warmth and sincerity. The New Year will begin in just a few moments. Let us congratulate each other and wish each other love and happiness in the coming year. Let all our dreams come true.

Happy New Year 2011!


(President Medvedev's address was followed by the Russian national anthem and then the clock chimmed in the New Year.)

Offline BelleZeBoob

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #383 on: January 04, 2011, 07:08:12 AM »

If memory serves correctly, the street that was duplicated in Moscow and Leningrad for the movie actually existed but was later renamed after Lenin's mother (?) I think.

Yes, by the movie plot, both Moscow and Leningrad used to have a Stroiteley (translated as 'Constructors' ;)  ) Street, and similarly looking highrise residentials with similarly looking floors and even furnitures, which made the characters confused.

This recognizable residential on Stroiteley Street, which was not renamed at least in Moscow, is still there, in the southwestern part of city. Now it has a memorial plate on the building because the movie made it famous :)
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Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #384 on: January 06, 2011, 08:43:19 PM »



It's Christmas morning in Russia as I write this. Just past 6am in Moscow and already in the afternoon out East in places like Vladivostok, Magadan, and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

To keep things simple in such a large geographical country, even though there are 9 time zones, all travel, rail and air schedules throughout Russia use Moscow Standard Time. Clocks in railroad stations and airports are set to Moscow Time even where it differs from local time by as much as eight hours.

So what happens in Russia at Christmas?

For holidays and such Russia, like great parts of the Eastern world, still uses the old Hebrew concept of sundown to sundown as a complete day. The fasts begin at sundown and end 40 days later at sundown as just one example. So last night at 6pm hordes of Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovans, Belarussians, etc, went to church.

Remember those folks who only attend church at Christmas and Easter? Well, it's Christmas.

The research group Monitor Russia, which measures public opinion on a variety of cultural and marketing themes, released statistics showing that almost 60 percent of Russians believe in God, while only 30 percent do not. Of those who believe, over 90 percent said they are Orthodox Christians. (Causing Mendeleyev to question whether they bothered to survey in Muslim republics?) The Moscow Times also reported that over 60 percent of Russians throughout the country intend to celebrate religious services during Christmas.

The Orthodox nativity liturgy is not a brief service and it typically begins just after midnight in some churches (called a midnight vigil) on Christmas Eve while other churches begin at sundown. After the Scripture and prayer vigil is concluded the service immediately transitions into a full liturgy with Holy Communion, a service which adds another 2-3 hours onto the events.


Readings for the Hours and Vespers:
Old Testament readings include: Micah 5:2-4; Baruch 3:36-4:4; Isaiah 7:10-8:4 and 9-10. Additionally, Genesis 1:1-13 and Numbers 24:2-3, 5-9 and 17-18 are read in the ninth hour, just prior to Vespers. Vespers includes Isaiah 11:1-10; Daniel 2:31-36 and 44-45.

New Testament readings include: Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-23; Luke 2:1-20; Hebrews 1:1-12, 1:10-2:3, 2:11-18 and Galatians 2:23-29. At Vespers, Hebrews 1:1-12 and Luke 2:1-20 are read.

On the day of the Nativity, Galatians 4:4-7 and Matthew 2:1-12 are incorporated into the Divine Liturgy.

The Scripture readings for the Hours and Vespers proceeding the Theophany are as follows:

Old Testament readings: Isaiah 35:1-10, 16-20, 23:3-6 and 49:8-15. Additionally, Genesis 1:1-13, Exodus 14:15-18, 21-23, 27-29 and 15:22 - 16:1; Joshua 3:7-8, 15-17, II Kings 5:9-14 and Isaiah 1:16-20 are read at Vespers. A second series of readings include Genesis 32:1-10; Exodus 2:5-10; Judges 6:36-40, I Kings 18:30-39, II Kings 2:19-22 and Isaiah 49:8-15.

New Testament readings: Acts 13:25-33, 19:1-8; Mark 3:1-6, 1:1-11; Romans 6:3-11; Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7; Matthew 3:13-17 or Luke 3:1-18. Vespers includes I Corinthians 9:19-27 and Luke 3:1-18.

The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil is celebrated at Vespers. The feast of the Theophany features the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. The readings include Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7 and Matthew 3:13-17.

The Divine Liturgy of the Synaxis (Sobor) of John the Baptist is celebrated the day following the Theophany. The Gospel passage is John 1:29-34 and the Epistle is Acts 19:1-8.

Terminology . . . .

Vespers: from the Latin, vesper, meaning the evening. Refers to evening prayer, usually at sunset. Vespers is one of the two primary periods of daily prayer. The other being morning prayer or Matins.

Vigil: From the Latin vigilia; meaning a night of watchfulness. Prayer service which combines Vespers and Matins. Vigil is observed on the eve of Sundays and Feast Days. In its purest form, Vigil lasts all night, usually 12 to 14 hours.

Hours: From the Greek, hora meaning a time or season. Refers to the various observances of daily prayer; aka the Liturgy of the Hours.

(Russian Life magazine)


Parishioners return home in the wee hours of the morning to get some sleep and prepare for the lavish meal to follow during Christmas day.



Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #385 on: January 06, 2011, 09:33:55 PM »
Today Eastern world Christians from Egypt to Serbia to Macedonia to Greece to Syria to Russia & Ukraine, Romania and from African countries like Ethiopia to the far east of Asia celebrate Christmas.





Greek, Syrian, Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians converged at Manger Square in Bethlehem to begin the Christmas season.

In Moscow, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias led the Midnight liturgy in Russia's main Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and the service was televised and broadcast on radio across Russia and to the "near abroad."

To the Archpastors, Pastors, Monastics, and all the Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church. Your Eminences the archpastors, honourable fathers, venerable monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!

On this present light-bearing night we again spiritually relive the joy of the world's finding of its Saviour. Again in our thoughts we gaze upon the Son of the Living God who lies in a manger of the cave of Bethlehem. Again we hear in our hearts the voice of the angels giving praise to the Creator and Redeemer: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men' (Lk. 2:14).

As we listen attentively to the powers of heaven, we realize that Christ's Nativity is filled with an extra-temporal meaning and has a direct bearing upon the destiny of each human person. Even he who does not know of the Saviour's feat may now acquire the knowledge of the Truth, become a son of God and inherit life eternal. Christ's Nativity reveals to us the truth about ourselves and makes it possible for us to understand and assimilate this truth.

Let us recall that the first man was made by the Creator as perfect ‘in the image and likeness of God' (see: Gen. 1:26). Yet Adam transgressed the commandment and distorted the Creator's intention for him. Deprived of a living communion with God, humanity buried itself evermore into the abyss of sin and pride. And then the Lord, in loving his creation and desiring salvation for it, sends into the world his Only-begotten Son, who restored the integrity of human nature and became the New Adam. Christ has shown to us an example of life conforming to the divine plan for the human person. This example is a reliable guide, which enables us not to depart from the way and to find only true direction leading to the fullness of life in both the conditions of our earthly existence and in eternity.

We progress along this saving path when we respond to the calls of God. One such call directed towards us is contained in the Epistle of St. Paul: ‘glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's' (1 Cor. 6:20). This means that we render praise to God not only in our prayers and hymns but also through good deeds for the benefit of our neighbour, people and Church.

This labour becomes a joyous labour in the name of Christ; it genuinely transforms the world around us and ourselves. People achieve a sense of togetherness when they work not by compulsion and not for the sake of gain but when moved by the sincere desire to do good and useful deeds. It is in this way that we serve the Creator together by embodying his will in our lives. The Greek word leitourgia (‘liturgy') is translated as ‘common cause.' Our entire lives should become a Liturgy, a common prayer and cause accomplished so that God's plan for the world and human person may be embodied in life and so that we can thereby give glory and praise to the Creator. This demands from us solidarity with our brothers and sisters in faith and even with those who have not yet found the Lord in their heart yet, like the Magi of the Gospels, find themselves on the path towards him.

The importance of unifying our endeavours in order to overcome tragedy and misfortune was demonstrated to us by the fires, droughts and floods of the past year in Russia and in the other countries of historical Rus'. They once more reminded us of our Christian duty to help our neighbours without regard to their beliefs, nationality and social status. During the hot summer months many people generously shared their efforts, time and material goods with those they may not even know and whom they shall ever likely see. To what purpose did they do this? Out of compassion for those to whom misfortune fell, who experienced hardship and who needed help.

Public solidarity and joint labours for the attainment of common goals are impossible without overcoming selfishness, without forcing oneself to do good, without the renunciation of exclusive attention to our needs and interests. At the foundation of true ‘unity of the Spirit' (Eph. 4:3) there lies the law of love bequeathed to us by the Saviour. National unity cannot be limited to merely times of trials. It has to become an integral part of our national self-consciousness and life.

I manifestly felt the strength of church unity during my numerous journeys to the dioceses of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Everywhere I saw the readiness of the bishops, clergy, monks and nuns to labour for the good of the Orthodox Church, to bring to perfection their parochial, monastery and diocesan ministries. This plants hope for a successful growth of church life in the spirit of unity and co-operation.

From the bottom of my heart, which is filled with joy, I congratulate you, Your Eminences the archpastors, honourable clergy, monks and nuns, brothers and sisters, on the great and saving feast of the Nativity of Christ and the New Year. I prayerfully wish that you be zealous executors of the will of God, bringing spiritual gifts to the Saviour of the world who has now been born so that his name be glorified always, now and forever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.


(Text from The Mendeleyev Journal)



Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #386 on: January 06, 2011, 10:27:20 PM »
Time to take a ride around the centre of Moscow, just behind an electric trolleybus.

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #387 on: January 07, 2011, 05:58:58 PM »
Nice Russia in winter video:


Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #388 on: January 07, 2011, 10:24:05 PM »
So, what is Christmas time like in some Russian homes?

Well, first it's snowy and cold.  This video was shot from inside a Russian apartment, high above the street on 23 December 2006: 

Sometimes it's too cold for children to venture outside so a mother must be very good at entertaining little ones in addition to all her other household duties.

Heat in the older style apartments can be erratic:  Most Russian and Ukrainian apartments have "central heating." By that we mean it is fed via steam, to entire blocks and rows of apartment buildings. Individual apartments have steam radiators, most often without controls entirely or with valves so old and rusted that to adjust them is an invitation to a disasterous steam explosion.

A central thermostatic control is located on the wall next to a series of dials but it's housed and controlled by Boris down at the local steam station. When it's too hot, one cracks open a window. When it's too cold you close the window. That is your individual "thermostat" in most older apartments.

If you want to know the temperature, most apartment dwellers have a thermometer attached to an outside window.  Inside, you already know if it's warm or cold.  What you want to know is, how cold is it outside?

In daytime much of the steam is diverted away from the apartment blocks (the Russian term is "sleeping zones") and fed to business and shops which are open in daytime.  It may become chilly in your apartment so you'll "layer" your clothing depending on the warmth inside your home.

At night the opposite takes place.  Well, it's susposed to take place.  Working past 4pm at the office can get chilly because thats about the time when the steam begins to be redirected back to apartment blocks in the "sleeping zones." Employees who work late begin to "layer" clothing as they continue to work.

When to take a shower: Morning is not always the best time as your body will be softened by the warm water, and exposure to the freezing temperatures and wind combine for the perfect recipe for pneumonia. In many cases showers are safer at night after outdoor activities have been completed.

Its not uncommon at night for your apartment to become very warm as you go to sleep but by morning it may be drifting back to the chilly side of living.

Those modern electric hot water kettles (chai-niki) are busy on cold winter days and nights. Tea is a staple all year long and doubles as medicine for sore throats in winter.



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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #389 on: January 08, 2011, 09:38:17 PM »
It's time to continue exploring the hometown of Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden. In the last installment the RUA bus had arrived, after a long journey from Moscow, to the city of Великий Устюг (Veliky Ustyug).





We're going to be joined by Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden. Even though this is a small town she was pleased to offer her services as a tour guide while we're here. It wouldn't be surprising to find her resting (it was an exhausting trip all over the Eastern world on New Years Eve and New Years day) so maybe we'll find her relaxing under a frosty icicle somewhere.

Well, look at that...   :)




Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #390 on: January 08, 2011, 10:15:38 PM »
Given our length of travel lets grab a bite of lunch and a good a place as any is the Grandfather Frost Cafe.





We'll wish to make a visit to the city museum a part of our plans. First established in 1910 as part of one of the local monasteries, the museum houses a unique collection of local fine art, icons and artifacts rescued after the Communist destruction of local churches, and many quality crafts made in the region.

Museum website (English): http://www.ustjug.museum.ru/eng/

As with most small towns you can see local people out and about even on snowy and cold days like this.




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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #391 on: January 09, 2011, 07:27:31 PM »
"Winter Evening"
Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin

The mist of the storm covers the sky,
The whirlwinds of snow are spinning;
Now, like a wild beast it calls,
now it cries like a child,
Now about the roof, decrepit,
Suddenly it rustles the thatches,
Now, like a traveler overdue,
to us on the window knocks.

Our ancient hut
is mournful and gloomy.
Why have you, my old lady,
Become silent at the window?
Is it the howl of the tempest
That makes you, my friend, fatigued,
Or are you drowsing under the hum
Of your spindle?

Let's drink good friend
Of my poor youth,
Let's drink away grief; where is the tankard?
It will make our hearts gay.
Intoxicate, me with a song, like a titmouse
Quietly living across the sea;
Intoxicate me with a song, like a girl
Who went for the water in the morning.

The mist of the storm covers the sky,
The whirlwinds of snow are spinning;
Now, like a wild beast, it calls,
Now it cries, like a child.
Let's drink, good friend
Of my poor youth,
Let's drink away grief; where is the tankard?
It will make our hearts gay.



Offline mendeleyev

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #392 on: January 12, 2011, 12:29:00 AM »
Nothing like being able to slip out of town for the holiday...especially if you're the President of Russia. The town of Ivanovo, part of Russia's famous Golden Ring, is certainly the perfect place for a president and his wife to slip out of town for a few days.




Wile in Ivanovo President and Mrs Medvedeva visited Orphanage No.3 and wished the children living there a Merry Christmas. The orphanage received a new bus and a high-technology computer classroom for Christmas. In addition, funds will be allocated from the Presidential Reserve Fund for renovating the orphanage.





While there, the President met with educators working in Ivanovo orphanages to discuss issues of their remuneration, the problem of child orphanhood, and many others. The meeting also discussed the necessity to develop a legal framework for centres training foster parents.


More photos available at the Mendeleyev Journal.

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #393 on: January 18, 2011, 10:11:03 PM »
Wow, the holidays got to all of us I think and it's time to finish quickly the tour of Grandfather Frost's hometown. As with most Russian towns the ancient churches are of great interest.














Excellent explanation of city sights: http://www.pomorsu.ru/Brumfield/velikii_ustiug.htm


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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #394 on: January 18, 2011, 10:21:13 PM »



An interesting feature of the Great Ustyug is the complete absence of any kind were ancient wooden structures. Until the mid-17 th century, the city did not know of another building material than wood, but the second half of the 17 th century is the period of flowering of his stone religious architecture. Go to the brick building was associated with an exceptional wealth of the city. merchants and clergy. Wooden churches were replaced by stone, and after a major fire in 1772 is widely deployed in the construction of stone houses. The city is the stone walls have never been and after the Troubles had not been updated and is not used.

The Council's Courtyard - the main temple ensemble Great Ustyug. Includes: Cathedral of the Assumption 1652-1663, with a bell tower, the cathedral of Procopius the Righteous in 1668, the Cathedral of St. John Ustyug 17-19 centuries, Bishop's House 18 th century, as well as several churches and a number of outbuildings. It is recommended to mandatory inspection.

Church of the Ascension in the Market Place - in 1648, the earliest extant monuments Ustyug stone architecture. One of the most impressive temples Great Ustyug. You need to see both outside and inside.

Michael the Archangel monastery is the second most important architectural ensemble of the city, the main stone buildings which are built in the second half of the 17 th century.

The streets of old town - in the first place we can recommend a walk through the former Soviet Avenue (main street of the old town) and along the waterfront of the Sukhona river which runs parallel. The length of both streets is about a mile.

House Shilov - one of the most interesting Ustyug merchant houses, built in the 60 years the 18 th century Baroque. It is recommended to mandatory inspection.

Dymkovo Sloboda - the church band, located on the other side Sukhona of the Cathedral's Court . Two churches early 18 th century. Stunning views of the Great Ustyug.

Trinity-Gleden Monastery - located 4 km from the city on the opposite right bank Sukhona in the place where it merges with the South, giving rise to the Little North Dvina. Somewhere near here was an ancient city Gledius Chud. The exact location of his whereabouts unknown. The monastery is open for inspection only in summer. Definitely worth a look at the carved royal doors at Holy Trinity Cathedral and the iconostasis itself.

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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #395 on: January 18, 2011, 10:48:34 PM »
Travel publication Hidden Europe #5 puts it best, Veliky Ustyug is one of the oldest towns in Russia, a place that history somehow left behind. From a distance, it is untouchably beautiful, the sort of place that should only Qgure in
Qlms. Close up, its charms are o!set by last year’s rubbish and a social malaise that is so common in rural Russia. It is a place that history forgot, and a place that forgot its own history.






While it is no longer necessary to travel for days on a barge up the river from Arkhangelsk, the daily train from the northern port to Kotlas, the nearest railhead for Veliky Ustyug, takes nineteen hours for the eight hundred kilometres journey through Russian wilderness. With no dining car, limited creature comforts and forty three stops en route, this is not a journey for the faint hearted.





It is only in recent years that Veliky Ustyug has found itself in the limelight again primarily because of its most famous resident, Grandfather Frost.


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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #396 on: January 19, 2011, 09:38:03 AM »
Visitors could easily spend a week touring northern Russia and visiting Veliky Ustyug for an exotic encounter with Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden.

Getting to Veliky Ustyug seems to get a little easier each year and with discount airlines now including Moscow in their schedules the trip has never been easier. Direct trains from Moscow’s Yaroslavsky station take upwards of eighteen hours to Kotlas and from there the journey can be completed in an hour or so by bus.

So since we've already arrived in town lets take the little road out to the GF Frost hideaway.





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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #397 on: January 19, 2011, 10:16:49 AM »
Okay, looks like we've arrived.





We'll walk over to the right and look at the compound directions.





To make it easy for visitors there are signs and even a map. (One common Russian term for map is "plan.")



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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #398 on: January 19, 2011, 01:32:26 PM »

(photo: Professor Victor/Live Journal)


Once inside the area there are displays of various animals and local crafts. We're going to go the northern hideaway of Grandfather Frost!





Wowsky! Even a local "tram" to ride!




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Re: A Snowy Eastern Christmas
« Reply #399 on: January 19, 2011, 01:48:26 PM »
Looks like Grandfather Frost may be going out for a late delivery.



(photo: Professor Victor/Live Journal)


Don't you just love a wooden porch/veranda!