The World's #1 Russian, Ukrainian & Eastern European Discussion & Information Forum - RUA!

This Is the Premier Discussion Forum on the Net for Information and Discussion about Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Discuss Culture, Politics, Travelling, Language, International Relationships and More. Chat with Travellers, Locals, Residents and Expats. Ask and Answer Questions about Travel, Culture, Relationships, Applying for Visas, Translators, Interpreters, and More. Give Advice, Read Trip Reports, Share Experiences and Make Friends.

Author Topic: A Snowy Eastern Christmas  (Read 62164 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #50 on: December 03, 2007, 09:14:35 AM »
For guys who will be in Russia or Ukraine over the holidays, here is a more complete glossary:

Удачи в Новом Году means to wish someone good luck for the new year. 

Здоровья в Новом году is to wish someone to be well in the new year.

Счастья в Новом годy is to wish someone happiness in the new year.

Three things are important when toasting someone for the new year:  Happiness, health, and wealth (or good luck).

Желаю тебе счастливого Нового года is a more intimate/personalized "I wish you a happy new year."

С Рождеством, моя милая is an intimate "Merry Christmas, my dearest."





Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #51 on: December 03, 2007, 03:08:57 PM »
The Story of the Snow Maiden
Once upon a time there was an old man and his wife.
They had everything they wanted,
A cow, a sheep, and a cat on the hearth,
but they didn't have any children.
Often they were sad and grieved.

One day during winter the white snow fell up to their knees.
The neighbor's children rushed out onto the street.
They slid on their sleds and threw snowballs,
and began to make a snowman.

Grandfather looked out of the window,
watched, and said to Grandmother:
"Well, wife, we sit here looking at the neighbor's children in our old age,"
"Let's you and I go out and build a snowman too."
And the old lady became merry as well.
"Well, let's go, Grandfather, onto the street."
"but why build a snowman, when I already have you?"
"Let's build a daughter, Snyegurochka!" (Snow Maiden)

No sooner said than done!
The old people went out into the garden and began to build a daughter.
They used two deep blue beads for eyes,
made two dimples in her cheeks,
and a piece of red ribbon for her mouth.
How good, their snow daughter, Snyegurochka.
Grandmother and grandfather looked and looked at her,
they loved her, and couldn't take their eyes off of her.

All of a sudden Snyegurochka's mouth began to smile,
her hair began to curl.
She began to move her arms and legs and then she walked through the garden and into the izba!(small wooden house)
Grandmother and grandfather couldn't believe their eyes,
they were so surprised they couldn't move!
"Grandfather!" cried Grandmother,
"Yes, it is, we have a living daughter, our dear little Snyegurochka!"
And into the izba they rushed, and what a joy it was!

Snyegurochka grew, not by the day, but by the hour.
And with each day, Snyegurochka grew more beautiful.
Grandmother and grandfather wouldn't let her out of their sight.
They doted on her.

Snyegurochka was as white as the snow,
her eyes were like deep blue beads,
her blond hair reached down to her waist.
But Snyegurochka didn't have any color in her cheeks or lips.
Still, she was so beautiful!

Spring came,
the leaves came out on the trees,
the bees flew about the fields,
the skylark sang.
All the boys were as happy as could be,
and the girls sang gay songs of spring.
But Snyegurochka grew sadder and sadder,
She looked out of the window and wept.

Then came bright summer,
the flowers blossomed in the gardens,
the grain ripened in the fields.
Snyegurochka grew more and more sad,
she avoided the sun,
she would stay in the cool shady places,
and best of all, she liked the rain.

Grandmother and Grandfather were very worried,
They kept asking her:
"Are you ill, little daughter?"
"I am fine, Grandmother." she would answer,
but she remained in her corner, feeling sad,
she wouldn't walk on the street.

One day her friends came,
they were going into the forest to gather berries,
raspberries, bilberries, and wild strawberries.
They came and called to Snyegurochka:
"Come with us, do come Snyegurochka!"
Reluctant Snyegurochka was to go into the forest,
reluctant Snyegurochka was to go into the sun,
but Grandmother and Grandfather insisted:
"Go, go, Snyegurochka,"
"go, go, little daughter,"
"you will have fun with your friends."

Snyegurochka took a little basket,
and went into the forest with her friends.
Her friends walked about the forest,
wove garlands of flowers, and sang songs.
But Snyegurochka found a cool stream and sat by it,
she sat looking at it, and dipped her fingers in it,
playing with the droplets.

Evening came.
The girls played even more merrily,
wearing their garlands,
they built a bonfire and began jumping over it.
Reluctant was Snyegurochka,
to play with them at this.
Her friends kept asking her to join them,
so she walked up to the fire.
She stood ther trembling,
her face as white as could be,
her hair fell loose about her.
"Jump, Jump, Snyegurochka!
Cried her friends.

Snyegurochka took a deep breath and jumped!
Over the fire was a hissing sound,
and Snyegurochka....
VANISHED!!
Rising from the fire was a wisp of steam.
It formed a cloud, and rose higher and higher,
into the sky.

Snyegurochka had melted.


Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #52 on: December 03, 2007, 04:21:40 PM »
The Christmas Season in Russia before the Revolution:


People went caroling at Christmas. Everybody participated in this activity, not only the peasants. Carolers would stop at houses, especially those of wealthy peasants and outsiders such as traders, officials, and local professionals. Payment was expected in either food or coins for their efforts. If the audience paid them, then the songs promised good things, bountiful crops and a prosperous year. If the carolers were not paid, misfortune was wished upon them in the coming year and even threats of theft or property damage was made.


Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was the last day of the six-week Christmas fast. Ancient custom stated that no one eat until the first star shone in the sky. Kutya, consisting of boiled wheat sweetened with honey and sprinkled with poppy seeds, or of boiled rice with raisins andnuts, was the traditional dish. In southern Russia, particularly, there was a tradition practiced. A mixed sheaf of barley, wheat, and buckwheat, tied with a handful of hay, was brought in. The sheaf was placed in the corner under the icons and a pot of kutya with a candle stuck in it was placed next to it. The table was spread with hay and covered with a white cloth in memory of the manger. A prayer for the New Year started dinner, which was finished with kutya. But first, the head of the household threw a spoonful outside for Grandfather Frost, saying "here is a spoonful for thee; please do not touch our crops." A spoonful was thrown up in the ceiling. Any grains that stuck represented the number of bees that came in the summer. Everyone left some kutya in their bowls for departed relatives at the end of dinner.


Christmas Day

Christmas Day found everyone out visiting in their finest clothes. Tables were always spread in a special manner, traditionally with at least five varieties of nuts, from Greece, the Volga, and Siberia, as well as many kinds of pickled mushrooms and several sorts of special gingerbread cookies. All kinds of apples, fresh, sweet, scrunchy, sugar-preserved, or dried were spread on the table along with many dried fruits, raisins, currants, cherries, prunes, pears, and dates


Svyatki

Svyatki was the period between Christmas and New Year's in old Russia. During this happy time it was the tradition to tell fortunes every day in a whole variety of ways. for instance, on fortune telling method involved several mirrors and a candle. The mirrors were placed to reflect into one another, and a candle was placed before them. The resulting figure would give a clue as to who the future beloved would be. Another traditional method had the girls and boys in a circle, with small piles of grain in front of each girl. A hungry rooster would be brought in, and the first girl to be married within the year was the one whose grain the rooster pecked first. Girls would also go out into the street or courtyard and ask the first passerby his name. That was the name of the future beloved.


Epiphany, January 6

The snow of the night before Epiphany was considered the most precious. People in the villages believed that this snow would whiten linen better than the sun, and that well water would be kept fresh and springs preserved with the snow. The snow could cure poor circulation, dizziness and cramps in the joints; placed on the hearth, it could protect against devilish snakes that could seduce a maiden.


The Blessing of the Waters
This ceremony was based on the immersion of Jesus in the Jordan. A hole, called the Jordan, was cut in the ice of the Neva in St. Petersburg. Then an open temple supported by pillars, surmounted by a golden cross, and embellished with icons of John the Baptist was erected around the hole. The interior was decorated with holy items such as crosses and holy books. Scarlet cloth carpeted the temple, processional platform and an enclosure of fir boughs twisted together placed at a distance.


On Epiphany, after the liturgy at the Court Chapel, a grand procession made its way to the Jordan. Heading the line were bishops and archimandrites in their richest, glittering and pearl-embellished habits, followed by the splendidly attired Imperial family and court. All the troops in the city encircled the temple with standards waving and artillery ready to fire. After many prayers, the water was blessed: the priest blessed it with uplifted hands three times and then immersed a holy cross in it three times. During the blessing cannons reverberated in solemn cadence. Children were then dipped into the water for blessings, and others scrambled to draw water. The belief was that the consecrated water remained fresh for years and had the power to cure the sick.

*  Credit:
http://members.aol.com/Morcathlyn/Christmas.html


Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #53 on: December 06, 2007, 12:53:28 AM »
Right now my family in Russia, and our American family, are observing the "Nativity Fast."  No meat, no dairy, no eggs, no alcohol, and no oil until Christmas Eve at night.

Now don't forget, New Years comes first in Russia.  On New Years Eve most families take a break from the Nativity fast and will enjoy all sorts of wonderful food and cakes.  And champagne!  And fireworks.  To learn about a real humdinger of a New Years party, read my post in the story of our St Petersburg honeymoon:
(Adventure Continues, Our Russian Honeymoon)

One of the highlights of that trip was spending New Year's eve at a hotel party in Petersburg.  We had a blast.  The ticket (not included in the tour) was $300 per couple. 

My economical bride had brought along a little electric water kettle that made 2 cups of tea at a time.  She also brought along instant mashed potatoes and our tour ended early on New Years eve so that couples could have time to prepare for any of the several parties to which we could purchase tickets.  So as we were dropped off at the hotel she wanted to buy some sausage.  What on earth for?  I asked.  She suggested we buy sausage and she would make the instant mashed potatoes with water from the little kettle.

I pulled out tickets from my coat pocket and she squealed in delight, hugged me, and then spent the rest of the afternoon putting on some serious hair and cosmetics for the evening.  My prior New Year's Eve celebration had been as a guest of her family in their home so I had no idea what to expect.

Let's just say this:  Russians know how to throw on heck of a party!

We dressed nicely in suit for me and long flowing dress for her because the tickets I purchased were to a ball.  Holy macaroni, the food started flowing about 8:30pm and we shared a table with another couple we'd never met before.  They were vacationing in the city and were very nice.  I've never seen so much food in all my life.  It never stopped.

By 10pm I was more than stuffed and waiters were bringing out new platters of salads, meats, pastries, cakes, vegs, more meats, more salads, etc.  Every 30 minutes a fresh wave of food would make it's way to our table.  I was swimming in food and thankfully Aya didn't expect me to eat from everything.  We left the party about 3:30am and they were still bringing out food every 30 minutes.

We danced to a big band orchestra which entertained for about an hour.  Then a circus troupe came in, complete with monkeys, and did a 45 minute show there in the ballroom.  Then a Russian rock band showed up doing American oldies.  Then a string quartet came by for 30-40 minutes and then a Russian comedian entertained.  Another rock band did European hits and then a troupe of magicians showed up.  All night we danced, ate, sang and had a very special time.

At the stroke of midnight the champagne came out with a bottle per person.  Everyone was handed fire crackers and other assorted fireworks and after the countdown and toasts, we launched our own fireworks show there in the hotel ballroom.  I was amazed that we didn't torch the entire city.  In America the fire department would have arrested everyone in sight, but hey, "it's Russia!"

Another big band orchestra followed and when we left about 3:30 a Euro hits rock band was playing.  The waiters had sat down a fresh new food course as we were standing up to leave.  It was one serious party.  The food alone was worth $300 and the entertainment was excellent.


Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #54 on: December 06, 2007, 12:56:26 AM »
Perhaps there is no better time to experience the mood and pulse of the Russian people’s devotion to family, their culture, and to their Motherland than over the New Year’s holiday celebration.  Just to hear the Russian national anthem on this solitary moment can be the experience of a lifetime:  Come to Moscow and spend New Year's Eve in Russia.  Gather with extended family and friends in a compact apartment crowded to the walls with those you love and cherish.  At about 8pm the salads begin to appear on the table, then soon followed by a never-ending stream of food as favourite Russian culinary delights make their way from the kitchen to the living room table over the next several hours. 

Sometime during the evening the music starts and lively dancing and toasts begin.  The finest champagne is held in reserve for after the midnight bells toll from the clock at the Kremlin.  Across Russia all eyes and hearts turn toward Moscow.  Just before midnight every television station switches to the Kremlin whose distinct red walls are dressed in a dramatic display of lights bathed in falling snow from Red Square.

President Putin appears on the screen and in his solemn style delivers the traditional greeting to the Russian people.  It is usually a short speech and all across Russia the music has stopped.  Dancing feet become still.  It seems as even the sounds of the streets and the hissing steam from the heat radiators also grow silent.

Traditionally the president offers words of best wishes to the people and afterward comes the announcement for which everyone has been waiting:  The President announces the length of the government holiday.  His pronouncement will affect everyone from government office workers to school children and their teachers to policemen and to many private business workers.  And at the end of his speech the Kremlin clock tolls midnight and the President ends his address with the familiar С Новым годом (sno-vim godom), Happy New Year!

Those sitting in the apartment, especially the elders and war veterans, stand at attention, glasses in hand, waiting for the playing of the Russian national anthem.  Immediately it begins and afterward the glasses are raised heavenward in toasts to health, wealth, and happiness for the coming new years.  Kisses, three times on alternating checks, are offered around the room.

Quickly New Year cakes appear on the table.  And fruit.  And more champagne.  Dancing begins again and now the sound of fireworks can be heard across the land.  The night sky is charged with colours so vivid, so bright, and so promising.  Children are bundled in heavy winter coats and carried outside to watch the dazzling displays as the cascading lights arch across the normally dark and brooding Russian skies.  The celebration of fireworks outside, and parties indoors, will continue until 3 or 4 in the morning. 

For many, sleep will come eventually but usually on a crowded sofa or even a blanket on the floor depending on the number of guests.  Others will wait out the night, often it is the men who sit in the kitchen or in a hallway and chain-smoke away the remaining hours until dawn begins to belatedly peer across the Russian horizon.

For those who managed to sleep even for a little while, morning comes quickly on January first and the winter snows have created a new white landscape across the Motherland.  Oh there is nowhere like Russia for breakfast!  In a land where there are no designated foods for specific mealtimes, any Russian breakfast can be an exciting adventure.  But on New Years morning it is very special:  Leftover New Years cake, champagne, sausage and cabbage from the night before, marinated beet/potatoe salad, and a spoonful of red or black caviar on thick black bread with butter.  Who needs an egg when you're having champagne and caviar for breakfast at 8am!

Most families have a tradition of walking to an important square or park in their city on New Years morning.  Naturally for Muscovites that traditional walk is on or around Red Square.  The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is passed reverently with memories of past conflicts from invading neighbors. 

Once on Red Square, typically teeming with folks dressed up like Eskimos and with the usual aloofness forgotten for just a day, greetings of С Новым годом, even to perfect strangers punctuate the brisk morning air.  Surrounded by churches many step inside briefly to pray before continuing the annual tradition.

Happy New Years!  С Новым годом, from Moscow, Russia.

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #55 on: December 06, 2007, 01:10:38 AM »
Christmas comes to Russian on 7 January.

During the Soviet period it was the Festival of Winter which was celebrated instead of the religious festival of Christmas but Christmas survived in spite of the restrictions by government.

Traditional Russian Christmas involves special prayers and a fast of 39 days till the first star appears in the sky on Christmas Eve (which falls on 6th of January in Russia). The star heralds the beginning of a twelve-course supper, one course each for the twelve apostles. Traditional Russian Christmas dishes include fish, beet soup known as Borsch, cabbage stuffed with millet and cooked dried fruit. Hay is spread on the floors and tables so that horse feed grows abundantly in the coming year. Similarly, Russians make clucking noises so that their hens lay more eggs.

Don't get the Christmas Eve meal confused with the Christmas Day meal.  The Christmas Eve meal will observe the fasting rules but will be much more festive and colourful than meals eaten over the past 39 days.  Fish and shrimp will be included but no other meat until the elaborate dinner on Christmas Day.

Our church will have a Christmas Eve vespers service for about an hour and then the Christmas Eve dinner is eaten together in the church hall--cultural center.  Different coloured dishes symbolize the various acts of the Apostles. 

On Christmas day in the afternoon/evening there will be the "mother of all dinners!"  What a celebration! 
On Christmas Day, people sing hymns and carols and gather in churches. Churches are decorated with Christmas trees known as 'Yelka', flowers and colored lights. Various meats form a part of the traditional Christmas dinner such as goose and suckling pig. Babushka (meaning 'grandmother') distributes presents to children in Russia. According to the folklores, she is very old and when the Three Wise Men stopped on their way and asked her to accompany them to visit Jesus, she declined because it was very cold. However, she regretted the decision later and set off with presents for the baby in her basket. However, she never found Jesus and in the hope of finding Him one day, visits all the houses with children and leave toys for the good ones. 

Grandfather Frost will be out and about delivering gifts also with the help of the lovely Snow Maiden.  They will ride in the Troika pulled by three very beautiful horses.

Here are some photos of a Russian Gypsy Christmas Dinner.  Enjoy!

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #56 on: December 07, 2007, 01:04:21 AM »
I'm sure some of us wonder how a meatless/oil-less/dairyless meal can find 12 dishes to serve on Christmas Eve.  At our church we are assigned dishes by family.  A noteable exception to the meal is fish/shellfish.  Last year and again this year we were asked to bring shrimp. 

First everyone will gather inside the church for the Christmas Eve Vespers service and afterward go to the meal.
Here is a sample menu:

1) Mushroom soup with zaprashka (or Sauerkraut soup).  Some churches like ours serve borsch.
2) Lenten bread ("pagach")
3) Chopped garlic
4) Honey
5) Baked fish and/or shrimp
6) Fresh Oranges, Figs and Dates
7) Nuts
8  Kidney beans (cooked slowly all day) seasoned with shredded potatoes, lots of garlic, salt and pepper to taste
9) Peas
10) Parsley Potatoes (boiled new potatoes with chopped parsley and margarine)
11) Bobal'ki (small biscuits combined with sauerkraut or poppy seed with honey)
12) Red Wine

On Christmas morning the family returns to church for the Christmas day Liturgy. After church the family gathers together to exchange gifts and share a special Christmas meal. Children go from door to door caroling the song "Thy Nativity".

"C Rodzhestvom Kristovom"(srod-zshest-vum krist-o-vum) is a common Russian Christmas greeting, meaning "with the Birth of Christ!"

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #57 on: December 07, 2007, 01:09:27 AM »
On New Years Eve, just before midnight the President delivers the annual address to the Russian people from the Kremlin.  Here is that address from 1970:



And here was Mr Putin from last new year's Even:

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #58 on: December 19, 2007, 10:38:36 PM »
Bulletin, bulletin, this message just in from Grandfather Frost!



Uh oh, Grandfather Frost's helpers have forgotten the words to "Jingle Bells!"

Online bgreed

  • Member
  • Posts: 335
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Ukraine
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 5-10
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #59 on: December 20, 2007, 06:37:27 AM »
Dang Jim where you been haven't seen you post anything in what seems an age.

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #60 on: December 20, 2007, 01:16:42 PM »
Hey Gregg, was traveling and out of pocket for a stretch.  Now back to the grind and enjoying this board.  Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #61 on: December 21, 2007, 08:13:10 PM »

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #62 on: December 21, 2007, 08:43:48 PM »
Each year the Christian charity group from Canada "Loads of Love" takes over 1,000 Ukrianian orphans to McDonalds.  Ranging from ordinary kids with no parents, to retarded and physically handicapped kids, these children enjoy a meal and a few hours of fun.  Most of them cherish this once-a-year experience so much that they take their empty cups, napkins, and empty french fry containers back to the orphanage when the event is over.

Here is a sample of the kids at McD:


More of the kids:


Open Arms Ukraine is another group giving hope to Ukrainian orphans:


Ransomed Daughter is another organization worth knowing:


Kharkov Orphanage:


Orphanage for Jewish children in Odessa:


No matter our individual faith expressions, at this time of the year it is good to ask God how we can help even in a small way to become the "father to the orphan."  There are some very fine groups operating in the FSU who day after day demonstrate love and care to the children who need our prayers and support.

Offline ECR844

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 7142
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Searching for the word I will become
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: Resident
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #63 on: December 23, 2007, 01:58:52 PM »



Offline Olga

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1381
  • Gender: Female
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #64 on: December 23, 2007, 09:34:46 PM »
20/12/2007 | Moscow News № 50 2007

Santa's Moscow Residence

Like most famous people, Father Christmas needs a good city address as well as his remote hideaway. The city authorities designated Kuzminki Park as Santa's official Moscow home in 2005 and it certainly has a winning combination of aristocratic history, natural beauty and good transport links. Peter the Great first gave the estate to Grigori Stroganov, whose granddaughter married Prince Mikhail Golitsyn in 1757, after which the Golitsyn family owned it until 1919. The lovely park is dotted with 18th century buildings and the Moscow History Museum has a branch devoted to "Russian estate life," currently housed in the spectacular "Stables" (closed on Monday).

1. Coming out from town on the Kuzminki metro, turn left off the train and left again in the perekhod to come up near the Perekrestok Supermarket. Crossing in front of this building, turn right down Zeleno­dolskaya Ulitsa, passing a household goods' market on your right. At the end of the road, you reach a tarmac square with a cinema, an ice rink (open from 9 a.m. daily) and a statue of Lenin where hooded crows like to perch. Passing a large map, go diagonally left through a wooden archway and then straight ahead into the park. Just before the stadium entrance, go left again, parallel to the fence, at the end of which you can fork right through the woods and right again near a small wooden playground to reach the lake and turn left along it.

Here, you walk through a muffled wonderland of bare trees and frozen water. You may prefer to avoid the actual paths, which can become treacherous glaciers of trodden snow, in favour of the fresher snowfall beside them. 2. Either way you will need a certain amount of time as you follow a series of three long lakes winding through Kuzminki Park, imaginatively titled the lower, middle and upper Kuzminki Ponds. At the end of the Lower Pond, you cross a wooden bridge, passing ducks on the right and the smaller "Pike Pond" on the left.

3. Rounding the final bend in the middle pond, you will see Kuzminki Ulitsa to the left and beyond it an interesting cluster of old estate buildings, with signs - unusually - in English as well as Russian. The elegant white neo-classical "Church of the Vlakhernskaya Icon of the Mother of God," rebuilt many times since the Stroganovs commissioned a first wooden church on the site in 1716, is filled with beeswax-smelling warmth and gilded icons. Behind the baroque gates with cast-iron griffins, the manor house is being restored. Going on along the Upper Lake, you also pass the red-brick ninteenth century Skotny Dvor (Cattle yard) where the estate cows lived in winter. Soon after, you see a wooden sign to the "Moscow Usadba (estate) of Ded Moroz (Santa)".

4. Beyond the end of the last lake, you will see a group of wooden terems surrounded by a fence festooned with fairy lights. Here are the official residences of "Grand­father Frost," the Russian Father Christmas, and his granddaughter Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden, along with a dedicated Post Office, theater, ice rink, a windmill, a well, a blini stall and a lot of carved animals. On weekdays, school parties listen to stories and music, while on weekends shows are performed throughout the afternoon. In front of the compound, the embryonic Christmas tree plantation does not quite compensate for the fizzing power lines overhead or the looming grey tower blocks, but the area behind is more successfully landscaped. At the point where the park becomes wilder forest, a series of bridges and walkways lead you past fairy tale figures and bullrushes in a mini-nature reserve with views of the terems across the Churilika River. If you want to bail out at this point, the half-hourly 248 Bus runs from nearby "Hospital Number 2" back to Kuzminki Metro.

5. Returning to the lake, walk left round the end and right along the far side with fine views of the estate buildings across the water. Ahead of you the magnificent Konniy Dvor ("Stables") is an inviting destination. Actually a Music Pavilion for concerts, it got its name from the two equestrian statues facing the lake. Some exhibits from the Museum of Estate History are temporarily rehoused here and it is worth visiting, if only for the cheap and homely café in the childrens' wing. Troika rides run from here and seasonal shows and events year round.

6. Leaving the Konniy Dvor, go under the wooden archway ahead and then turn left along a track through the woods which gradually converges with the lower lake. When the path turns right and starts to climb uphill, fork left along another track, past an old orchard and later along the meandering Ponomarka River valley which ends near an embankment. Turn right before the embankment to follow a tarmac path to Volzhskaya Metro.

Family friendly features

This week's destination is obviously one that kids should be happy with, and Kuzminki Park itself is packed with "Attraktioni"(fair ground rides), playgrounds and go-karting, but at this time of year the focus is on ice rinks and troika rides. The Lomakov Antique Automobiles and Motorcycles museum (where you see Lenin's Rolls -Royce or Stalin's Limousine) is only one stop away from the end point near Lyublino Metro Station.

By Phoebe Taiplin

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #65 on: December 25, 2007, 12:09:57 AM »
Having returned from tonights Christmas Eve dinner and liturgy at our neighborhood Russian Orthodox Church, it might be interesting to share some experiences for guys who live in cities without a large Russian population and don't have the chance to attend such an experience.

I worked today until 2pm.  I made sure to eat my (meatless) lunch before Noon so that I could totally fast from Noon thru the evening hours.

2:30pm:  Pick up some extra shrimp on the way home.  Our oldest daughter thinks we don't have enough.  Shellfish is allowed on certain fasting days, and a feature at the Christmas Eve "Holy Supper."  Picked up 2 more packages (32 oz) and continued toward home.

3:00pm:  Open the packages, rinse off the shrimp, and spread them on a towel to defrost and dry off.

3:30pm:  Peel 10 lbs potatoes for Potatoe salad (for tomorrow afternoon's meal) since the mayo has oil and is therefore prohibited from eating during the Nativity fast.

4:00pm:  Took a call from one of the church dinner coordinators.  Was I also planning on bringing cocktail sauce for the shrimp?  Ah, was I susposed to?  Of course.  Consult with daughters who inform me that you can make a cocktail sauce using a bottle of common ketchup and mixing in horseradish sauce...carefully....don't over-do the horseradish. 

4:10pm:  Race off to supermarket to buy a big bottle of ketchup and a little jar of horseradish sauce.

4:25pm:  Thank goodness supermarket is just two blocks away.  Back home with ingredients.  Oldest daughter helps and presto....yes, it tastes just like the cocktail sauce sold in supermarkets.  Wow!  I never knew that.  We'll remember that one.

4:50pm:  Call to my oldest daughters fiance.  Reminder that we are leaving at 5:15pm.  He's just around the corner and will help carry our "stuff" to the car.

5:00pm:  Shrimp is defrosted nicely and dry.  Put in plastic bowls and seal for trip to church.  Take cocktail sauce out of freezer....it got cold in a hurry!

5:05pm:  Wow, we are actually walking out to car.  This is going much too smoothly.  What are we missing?

5:10pm:  We're missing serving platters for the shrimp!  Yikes.  Pull back up and race inside.  Open a cabinet...ah hah.  These two silver platted ones should do just fine.  Rinse off platters and dry with towel which held shrimp just a few minutes ago.  Who will ever know?  After all, it's shrimp on both towel and the platters.  We won't tell anybody.

5:15pm:  Now what are we forgetting.  Okay, drive to church.

5:23pm:  Pull into parking lot.  Assign daughter's fiance to carry the heavy stuff--that would be 7 boxes of church candles which I had worked on and prepared this week.  Daughter carries cocktail sauce and I carry 8 lbs of shrimp into the church cultural hall.

5:27pm:  Wash hands in the church's large professional kitchen.  We do a lot of fundraising selling Russian breads and goodies to the Phoenix Russian community.  Hands washed, greet the mostly lady crew inside the kitchen and am informed that I must arrange the shrimp on the platters, cover the platters, pour the cocktail sauce into serving bowls and cover, then am assigned a space for it all in one of the large wall-to-wall refrigators.  Enlist help of oldest daughter.  Mission accomplished.

5:35pm:  Walk across parking lot to the church.  Outside the door stop to make the sign of the cross and bow before entering.  Oldest daughter's fiance is taking the tedious months-long process of becoming Orthodox and it is nice to see that he now does these things without instruction.  He is sincere and learning well.

5:38pm:  Step into supply room at back of church and arrange candles on shelves for future services.  Clear up a little mess left by one of the deacons who was working on a incense lamp.

5:41pm:  Walk into sanctuary.  Buy a large candle.  Bow for a moment and make the sign of the cross.  Walk forward and kiss the first icon--the icon of the Nativity.  Making the sign of the cross I leave it and go right to the next large icon.  It is the icon of Christ.  Make the sign of the cross and kiss the icon.  Say a brief prayer of thanks for Christ's birth.  Move to the left side of the church.  At the Virgin Mary icon I cross myself, kiss the icon, light my candle at this icon, and then pray for my wife who is in Russia, for our youngest daughter in Russia, for our middle daughter who is spending the evening with friends, for my brother and for extended family members. 

5:47pm:  Modestly bow before the congregration (we must submit one to another in love) and then walk to the back of the church.  Climb the stairway up to the choir loft.  I arrange the service books for our section (base/baritone) and consult with the section leader of the tenors about 2 newer songs we will be singing in both English and Old Slavonic.  The choir director listens intently and then points out a couple of passages of which she has concerns.

6:00pm:  The service is starting.  The deacons and readers will do all the chanting for the first 10 minutes of the service so the choir gets ourselves arranged and stand waiting for our cues.  During the liturgy we will chant responses and sing songs in response to the deacons and priest.  Once started we'll be "on" non-stop thru the entire service.

6:12pm:  We are "on," chanting the first in a series of "Lord have mercy" alternating between English and Old Church Slavonic.  It's so beautiful down in the sanctuary with all the candles and flowers (electric lights are out and the light is supplied by hundreds of candles) but up in the choir loft we don't get to enjoy this truly beautiful sight.  But the music is beautiful and so we try to make a joyful noise to the newborn baby Christ.

7:05pm:  The Nativity Vespers service is over.  Parishioners file forward in a single line to kiss the Nativity icon, then move to the cultural hall for the "Holy Supper." 

7:15pm  Sasha (Alexander), Andrei (Andrew) and I collect the candles and clear the candle holders.  There will be a 9am service tomorrow morning so we must clear things now.  It goes by quickly.

7:20pm:  Step back inside the cultural hall.  Am invited by several friends to sit at their table but oldest daughter and her fiance have saved a spot for me with a group of our Ethiopian sub-congregration.  Sit down.  I have been on my feet for hours and it just feels so good to sit for a while.

7:25pm:  Meal begins.  There is a printed program because we will pray and sing our way thru all 12 events/colours of Christmas before eating.  It goes quickly:  Father David invites us to take a handful of clean straw and scatter it over our table to symbolize that Christ was born in a manger with the animals.  The tablecloths are white....Jesus was wrapped in cloth and white symbolizes purity.  We take a whole garlic clove and then honey is passed around the table.  Dip the garlic in honey and then eat it.  Ugh!  But we do it every year.....the picture of life which consists of both the "ugh" (garlic) and the sweet (honey).  The priest walks down the two serving lines and lightly sprinkles blessed water on the food.  Now deacon Alexi prepares us for remembing those who have died and gone on before us.  An empty chair is placed at the head table and deacon Alexi reminds us that life brings eventual death, and we carry in our hearts the hope that one day we will see our loved ones in heaven by God's grace.  The priest then asks us to stand beside our tables.  We take a small glass of wine placed before each plate.  He makes a toast for thanking God for his goodness and for sending a Saviour for our sins in the form of a baby....the light of the world.  We drink the toast and sit down.  It's time to eat.

Such a delicious meal and such variety!  There were actually more than 12 dishes because the Ethiopians have the same tradition, but they don't have the same kind of Nativity foods.  So, our blended congregation was treated to at least 20 or more various dishes.  All very delicious!  All meatless.

We started each serving line with kutya the rice and nuts and honey mixture Olga so graciously told us about earlier in this thread.  At the end of each line was a large kettle of borsch.  Red in colour, borsch is a symbol that while born today....someday Christ would die and his blood would be the requirement for our salvation and only by partaking of, and accepting his sacrifice, could we someday live with God in eternity.

8:15pm:  Meal is winding down.  We don't have "desserts" because we are still "fasting" and desserts represent a celebration.  That will come tomorrow on Christmas day when the fast is over.

8:20pm:  Deacon Alexi leads us in singing "Memory Eternal" the song for saints and relatives departed this life.  We alternate it in English and Old Slavonic.  Then he and Priest David start our singing of Christmas carols.  We sing together for about 10-12 minutes.

8:32pm:  Time to clean up.  Thank God I'm not on this year's Nativity "cleanup" committee.  Did that last year.  I deserve a break.

8:45pm:  Drive home.  We're tired and tomorrow is an even bigger day.  Say goodnight to daughter's fiance and we step inside.  Whew.

8:55pm:  Change clothes and put leftover borsch (gift of my elderly Belarussian friend Helen) along with the stuffed (no meat) cabbage rolls (a gift from Tatiana and Ivan) into fridge.  Our friends are worried that I don't eat right when away from my wife...if they only knew.

9:15pm:  Call Aya in Moscow.  Of course she wants a minute-by-minute and menu item-by-menu item description of the evening.  I comply....up to a point.  That was when she asked about the serving platters for the shrimp.  Her words were something like this, "you didn't use those old beat-up silver patters did you?"  "You did remember to use the nice glass serving platters, correct?  You do remember we talked about it, yes?"

Silence.  Ah, cough, gulp. 

Then with a literal gusto of confidence, "of course my darling.  They looked wonderful.  Everybody commented about the ah, those ah, yes the glass platters.  Right oh, took 'em right out of the dining room cabinet.  Very lovely, indeed."

She didn't buy it.  Wrong cabinet.  I couldn't even identify the correct room they were in. 

I'm in the doghouse.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Merry Christmas everyone!








Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #66 on: December 25, 2007, 09:45:22 PM »
New Years-Christmas time photos

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #67 on: December 25, 2007, 09:47:24 PM »
The beauty of Russia and Ukraine in winter!

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #68 on: December 25, 2007, 09:50:21 PM »
Some beautiful sights...

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #69 on: December 25, 2007, 09:55:05 PM »
And more...

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #70 on: December 31, 2007, 04:57:09 PM »

Offline Olga

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1381
  • Gender: Female
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #71 on: January 09, 2008, 04:48:20 PM »
 Source: Pravda.Ru 25.12.2007

Christmas is considered to be the mother of all holidays. The significance of the holy night, when baby Jesus was born is immense for the entire world. The course of new history and the modern-day chronology is directly linked with the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas used to be the most popular and the most important holiday in Russia. On Christmas Eve Russians were not allowed to eat and celebrate during the day. The holiday would begin for everyone at night, when the first star appeared on the sky. Parents would tell their children stories about the birth of Jesus Christ, how the Three Wise Men came to worship baby Jesus.

A wonderful tradition to decorate a fur tree appeared in Russia during the time of Peter I the Great, the Emperor who ruled Russia in the 18th century. The first Christmas tree came to Russia from Germany. The evergreen tree is still considered to be a symbol of everlasting life. Fur trees appeared in every Russian home soon afterwards.

On Christmas day Russians used to visit each other, sing church songs and Christmas carols hailing the birth of baby Jesus.

Christmas used to be Russia’s biggest holiday before the Revolution of 1917. On Christmas day of December 25, 1812, Emperor Alexander I signed the manifesto about the creation of the temple to honour Russia’s victory over Napoleon "to signify Our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from the doom that overshadowed Her". The document marked the birth of one of Moscow’s best-known cathedral, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the tallest Orthodox Church in the world.

The Cathedral had taken many years to build and did not emerge from its scaffolding until 1860. Some of the best Russian painters (Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Surikov, Vasily Vereshchagin) continued to embellish the interior for another twenty years.

After the Revolution and, more specifically, the death of Lenin, the prominent site of the cathedral was chosen by the Soviets as the site for a monument to socialism known as the Palace of Soviets. This monument was to rise in modernistic, buttressed tiers to support a gigantic statue of Lenin perched atop a dome with his arm raised in blessing.

On December 5, 1931, by order of Stalin's minister Kaganovich, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was dynamited and reduced to rubble. It took more than one blast to destroy the church and more than a year to clear the debris from the site.

With the end of the Soviet rule, the Russian Orthodox Church received permission to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February 1990.

A construction fund was initiated in 1992 and funds began to pour in from ordinary citizens in the autumn of 1994. The completed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was consecrated on the Transfiguration day, August 19, 2000.

Bolsheviks banned the holiday of Christmas in Russia nationwide from 1917. The Bethlehem star was replaced with the red five-point star. The green fur trees were also banned as a symbol of Christmas, the holiday of the bourgeoisie. The tree returned to Soviet Russia in 1933 with a new title - the New Year tree.

However, Russians continued to celebrate Christmas at their own risk. Christmas services were secretly held in private homes, in concentration camps and in exiles. People had courage to celebrate the brightest day of the year taking the risk of losing their jobs, freedom and even lives.

Christmas finally returned to Russia in 1991. It became an official holiday for all nations of the Russian Federation. However, Russia celebrates Christmas on January 7, on the new calendar style.

Offline mendeleyev

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12849
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #72 on: January 09, 2008, 07:45:50 PM »
Olga, welcome back to you and Legal!  We missed you and hope that your trip was wonderful and meaningful for the two of you.  God's richest blessings to you both.

I can remember all of 2000 passing the Catherdral several times each week as the work was wrapping up.  The workmen were truly skilled artisians and they laboured on this project with a national pride and love for what they were restoring.  It was a spiritual experience I think for most of them.

What a beautiful and inspiring Cathedral!  Is is so huge inside, yet worshippers move with a sense of quite reverence.  At times you can hear a pin drop....that is saying something in a typical Russian Cathedral where there are no pews for seating.  Those of us in the West have to stop and watch and listen to understand what the restoration means for the Russian faithful.

Bless you Olga for writing about this magnificient church.

Offline Olga

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1381
  • Gender: Female
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #73 on: January 09, 2008, 08:16:28 PM »
Thank you, Mendeleev for your warm words and welcome. (only I did not write about this magnificent church, I found the  article and I thought it could be interesting information )

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour has its own web site where you can read about the Cathedral's history more and also see photo gallery.

http://www.xxc.ru/english/index.htm









Offline Olga

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1381
  • Gender: Female
Re: A Russian New Year & Christmas
« Reply #74 on: January 09, 2008, 08:22:48 PM »