Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


Timofeeva Victoria, 32(2)

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, 
and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  
(Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Christmas is coming, it is one of the most important and magnificent holidays of the Christian calendar. This is a miraculous time of year when people begin to believe in miracles again and become pure-minded like heartfelt children.

We all come from childhood. This is a fun and good time which is associated with sweet memories and a sense of continuing happiness. I remember this happy-go-lucky period of my life when I dreamed with confidence without thinking whether my dreams would come true or not. On Christmas Eve there were dozens of lights which burnt in my house. Honestly, this amazing picture made my heart so bright and happy that I wanted to embrace the whole world. I waited always for Christmas time because it was very great to help my parents to make a special dinner and feel breathtaking holiday atmosphere. Even growing up I become a light-hearted child again for a while, forget all the troubles and plunge into the world of magic at Christmas.

Moreover, everything changes in the days of Christmas. In this period of time even the most hardened cynics turn into romantics and become a little kinder.  Most people forget about all the difficulties and could be among friends and relatives. All the year round we called each other on the phone occasionally, however at Christmas all loving people gather together at the same table. There is an opportunity to hug each other, talk, and wish happiness during this marvelous night. On Christmas Eve, the sky opens its gates, and we can make a wish, importantly that it should be sincere and from the heart.

I want to believe that we can start a new countdown on the eve of this holiday and our life will be more successful and full of incredible things. Once upon a time there was already a miracle, the birth of Jesus Christ. We yearn to believe in wonders and wish to let a little Christmas magic enter into our lives. Enjoy your life and go towards your dream like children - and then the most cherished desires will be fulfilled.


Dmitriy Skvortsov EG 32/2

“Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.”
 (Mary Ellen Chase)

         Have you ever thought what naturally Christmas is? If you were asked, there would be probably such words in your answer as: Santa Claus, Christmas tree, gifts or presents, decorations, mistletoes, candles or whatever more. Anyway you can’t but mention Christmas as a date. Actually, Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.

        Christmas is a state that makes people believe in miracle, wonder and love. Love becomes more powerful, because Christmas is not about one man, it is about all men, the children of God. Someone has said that if there was no Christmas, it would be necessary to invent one. However, these words are no doubt true. Unlike any holiday, Christmas reminds people about love that surrounds us and should be expressed within all of us. That is why we sing, smile and a handshake replaced by a hug these days. A date can’t inspire people, they are inspired by the state of mind, that captures us all.

         Nevertheless, one or two weeks before, all members of a family gather and begin to decorate their Christmas tree. The atmosphere of wonder, kind and hope is settled in these family members’ minds. Each expects everyone to give and take mutual kindness, care and love. So this state of mind leaves no other choice for them but believe in Christmas as something that unite and warm their hearts.

         It is hardly possible not to agree with the fact that Christmas leaves us a great feeling of something unnatural has already happened, and still, it is happening. The fact is that Christmas, as the state of mind, continues to make our hearts beat in the merry rhythm of forgiveness and readiness to help. Even after clock strikes twelve people believe that everything will be fine.

         However any date, even when it is a holiday, can’t last more than twenty four hours. In case Christmas is a state of mind, only then, we can speak about its immortal ability to sustain an atmosphere of wonder that spreads among all the people celebrating this wonderful holiday. We can celebrate Christmas whenever we wish, even each day, if our hearts and souls really want to. Because it is not certainly a date, it is a state of mind that goes as a reminder for us to act: help, unite, forgive and love people.


Irina Nazarova, EF 31(2)

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Christmas… It sounds like music, doesn’t it? Snow-covered houses, adorned with garlands, illuminated streets… A little cozy room in a soft evening shade, a fine Christmas tree, and at night, when everybody has gone to bed, a jolly Santa Claus, appearing out of the chimney … I believe this picture is familiar to everybody, as Christmas is thought to call up only pleasant associations. Or, maybe, these are only childhood memories, ridiculous and naïve? By no means, our attitude to life changes with age. But isn’t there a chance to turn back the clock at least on this marvelous holiday?
When we are younger, everything is different to us: the stars seem closer, houses and trees – larger, and holidays – merrier and filled with magic, as every child expects something unusual to happen. I remember the joy of preparing homemade Christmas cards and designing a fancy dress for our school party together with my family. And, of course, creeping to the Christmas tree in the morning to see what Father Frost has left for me. Such moments, kept in our memories, sometimes help us through the hardships of life, so hard to bear sometimes.

You see, the daily routine causes our growing practical and even cynical with years. Yet, fortunately, there is a way to avoid our complete turn for the worse: as we grow older, there is more opportunity to make others happy and let their wishes come true. And, when you see your dearest’s brightened faces, you’ll find yourself ready to believe in wonders. And you’ll certainly believe and start making wishes, longing for presents, and peering into the darkness to see Santa driving in his sledge. Moreover, like a small child who has done something wrong, you may want to get better in the future, and that’s what others also do. The holiday mood shared by everybody is the one that makes Christmas so unique.

You may hear someone say they don’t like holiday rush, expenses for gifts and all this staff. To be honest, I don’t think they are sincere, for an open-hearted child always lives in us and is awake when Christmas comes. So why not indulge ourselves a bit on such a wonderful occasion? Wish, dream, take joy from this merry holiday and make others shine with delight, not only on this day, but throughout all the following years! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!










Monday, 24 December 2012










Week 5 proved that flooding is infectious.

So here is the PENALTY for week 5.

If you post more than 5 commentaries per post, each of them is 1 point!
If you post 5 or fewer comments, each of them is 2 points!

Multi-comments to Let's share are penalised - only 6 and fewer commentaries are awarded 1 point per commentary.

If you score more than 10 BONUS points per week, each of them brings only 0,1 point to your subtotal.

If you score 10 or fewer  BONUS points per week, each of them brings  1 point to your subtotal.

As most multiple-comments in week 5 were made early in the week,
 all the participants who have scored at least 10 points for their weekly work in the blog 
(I wonder how they managed!!!), are awarded
5 bonus points for FAIR play!!!

1  Лапшина Юлия
2      Гуляева Ольга42
3  Стрельцова Анастасия41,2
  Ворожейкина Дарья
  Павлова Мария

 Фадеева Екатерина

Here is the list of all the participants 


Week 4 was the first to reveal a tendency to multi-commenting. In most online societies it is regarded as flooding, which is a cyber-offence and  as such it is penalised.

By making numerous commentaries to posts, esp. early in the week, you discourage other participants in many ways:
by exhausting the subject matter
by making others  read all your stuff to leave a comment or a reply
by turning the competion into a farce.

So here is the PENALTY for week 4.

If you post more than 5 commentaries per post, each of them is 1 point!
If you post 5 or fewer comments, each of them is 2 points!

If you score more than 10 BONUS points per week, each of them brings only 0,1 point to your subtotal.
If you score 10 or fewer  BONUS points per week, each of them brings  0,2 point to your subtotal.

1  Павлова Мария47,7 
2      Леонова Елизавета40,1
3  Стрельцова Анастасия39,9
  Пыженко Юлия
 Ворожейкина Дарья

6-7   Трушина Маргарита
   Демидова Ирина

Here is the list of all the participants (Wow, we were 24!!!)

Little Blue Light

The Little Blue Light (Russian: Голубой огонёк, Goluboy ogonyok) was a popular musical variety show aired on Soviet television since 1962 during various holidays. The name alludes to the light blue glare of a TV screen as well as some traditional Russian expressions relating to friendly visits: заглянуть на огонек (zaglyanut na ogonyok) – "to drop in on a light", i. e. to visit someone after seeing a light in their window; посидеть у огонька (posidyet' u ogon'ka) – to have a sit by the fire.

The show featured popular artists and various prominent Soviet people: udarniks, Heroes of Socialist Labor, cosmonauts etc., who sat by the tables in a "TV cafeteria", singing songs, playing sketches, boasting, celebrating the holiday. The idea of the show was that they "dropped in on a light" to every Soviet family to share the festive table beyond the TV glass.

The best-known was the New Year's Little Blue Light (Russian: Новогодний Голубой огонек, Novogodniy Goluboy ogonyok), aired on every New Year's Eve as a part of the late Soviet tradition: the Little Blue Light followed the New Year's speech by the General Secretary of the Communist Party with congratulations to the Soviet people, which was, in turn, preceded by the 1975 film comedy Irony of Fate.

The Little Blue Light was devised by film director Aleksey Gabrilovich, and the first show was aired on 6 April 1962 as a weekly Saturday broadcast. After some time it became a monthly show, and later it was only aired on major holidays.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Little Blue Light was revived in Russia.[1] The trademark "Little Blue Light" is now owned by Russia 1, the television network.

Christmas Recipes

This site will tell you about different Christmas recipes!
Loke at it and get into the Christmas spirit with delicious meals!

Santa's Net


Visit this site and find out more about Christmas traditions in different countries, Christmas poetry, recipes and so on!



This site includes everything you need to learn about Christmas and even more, e.g. Christmas Countdown Calendar, Christmas recipes, the Elf Blog, etc.

10 Interesting Christmas Facts

This site is only one page, but it tells us of the most interesting facts about Christmas!
Have a look at it and refresh you knowlenge!


One of the best all around Christmas web sites, it's filled with explanations of traditions, legends, music, stories, how-to's and more. A lot more. Let The Merry Jukebox fill your home with Christmas music, send an ecard, become a Secret Spy for Santa, join the forums (amazingly abuzz year 'round), check out the Christmas news and so much more that you can get lost for hours in this place. Everything Christmas is here and it may be the only site you'll ever have time to explore but don't stop yet!

The lyrics of carols, and origins of the most popular Christmas carols are included on this site, together with additional non carols sections dedicated to Christmas songs with music like the ever popular "White Christmas'' song and traditional Christmas poems & video of "Twas the night before Christmas" writer - Clement Clarke Moore.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Divinations

Christmas Divinations

The birth of Jesus Christ brought with it a whirlwind of superstitions, omens and predictions. On the day of Jesus Christ's birth, many were believed to have felt a breeze laden with scents and fragrances of a new beginning. The birth of Christianity began with the birth of Jesus Christ, on that one night, in a small shed in Bethlehem. Ever since Christianity's inception, there have been various saints who have been worshipped time and again, including Saint Nicholas. The worship of saint-like people automatically meant that there was a lot of idolizing and paganism being followed. This brought with it, countless superstitions and religious beliefs that have been used for divinations and future predictions time and again. Many sought to change the course of future basing their prophecies on a few Christmas superstitions. Thus, on the day of Christmas, there are various good and bad omens that are classified based on many things. The question here isn't how these superstitions affected people but how bizarre they could really get. Read on for some ancient, yet entertaining superstitions.

Christmas Divinations, Beliefs & Myths

  • In ancient Russia, girls would peel an onion and leave it under their pillows at night. They would chant a silent prayer and if they dreamt about a man at night, that man would become their future mate, even if they had never met him before. This sort of tradition was followed for Saint Thomas’ Eve, and young girls would eagerly wait to dream about their future partner.

These are some of the Christmas divinations superstitions that are said to affect people' lives for good. Although many of these beliefs have been pushed aside in the modern times, there are still various sections of the society who follow and believe in them by the book. From making a wish while stirring the Christmas pudding to shaking the elder tree for a suitor, these are some of the few Christmas superstitions that are believed by many around the world during the holiday season. Even if you don't believe in them, the above list is sure to have brightened your day with a few smiles and giggles.

Divination on Christmas Day are considered the most accurate and have their roots in the days of pagan Russia.

During the Christmas and Christmas guessing you can search for all the predictions only good sense. Bad omens do not attach much importance to, otherwise you will pre-configure itself to failure in the new year.

We have tried to collect the most interesting and reliable Christmas divination, which, as we nadeemya will help you reveal the secrets of the future.

Christmas divination barking dogs

at midnight to take a knife, go outside, walk up to a snowdrift and snow begin to cut with a knife, saying, "Damn, damn, do not be silent, damn, damn, tell me, what I husband along, have to laugh or cry? ".

Christmas divination on wax (candles)

Get stubs of wax or paraffin candles, white (colored holiday candles, divination is not suitable), folded into a metal bowl, melt in the heat and immediately pour into a bowl of cold water. Formed in this figure and will predict the future that awaits wonder lady.

Interpretation of figures

House - soon to furnishing the new economy, and for girls it is primarily due to her marriage.
Shapeless ruins - disaster in the near future.
Pit, a small cave or grotto - the unwanted figure, because it symbolizes the place of burial, and predicts a severe illness or imminent death.
trees - they can be interpreted in different ways, upward branches of the tree promise quick joy, drooping - sadness, depression and boredom.
candle ring or uniquely predict a quick wedding.
Damn, settled to the bottom, by contrast, promises a long girlhood.

Guessing on wax and milk

Pour milk into a saucer and put it on the threshold. Get stubs of wax candles, placed in a metal bowl and melt in the fire, saying: "Brownie, my master, come under the threshold to drink milk, eat the wax."

uttered the last word spells, pour the wax into the milk and carefully consider the resulting figure at the same time.

Friday, 21 December 2012




To win our Christmas competition, you are to do FIVE Christmas quizzes.


The deadline is December, 23, 24:00 MSK.

Christmas Essay

Writing Across Cultures
Credit Paper
Year III, Term V
Academic Year 2012-2013

Choose one of the Christmas quotes below and write an essay of 350-400 words. 

The deadline is December 23, 2012, midnight.

1.     “Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  (Laura Ingalls Wilder). Comment on the quote.

2.     “Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind. ” (Mary Ellen Chase). Comment on the quote.

3.     “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” (Charles M. Schulz ). Comment on the quote.

4.     “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ” (Roy L. Smith). Comment on the quote.

Christmas Song Winners

Our winner is Last Christmas by Wham

Nearly 44,2 % of the voters have chosen it as the Christmas song they like most!!!

Congratulations to Elizaveta Tsarkova
who has shared it with us!!!
(5 bonus points!!!)

I think 
Frosty the Snowman with its 32,6 % 

also deserves its share
3 bonus points go to Maria Pavlova!

Thursday, 20 December 2012


It is clear that our leaders  ARE Nastya and Masha.

Dear ladies, 
our competition is for fun, let's not turn it into a farce.

Please, no more comments for you, just Christmas Quiz 5.

Let's agree to the draw, i.e. you both win and share Places 1-2.


History of Russian New Year celebration

In Russia, after adoption of Christianity people, following traditions of forefathers, who believed that new year began in spring, when all nature was resuscitating, celebrated New Year in March or at Eastertide. In 1492  Ioann III approved a decision to consider 1st September as the beginning of new  ecclesiastical and civil year. At this day people rendered tributes, duties and other taxes to the power. To make this  more ceremonial and pompeous, the tzar came to Kremlin where everyone, a simple peasant or a decent boyar could come to him and beg for his mercy. Tzar gave an apple to every man and called him "brother". 
The last time when New Year, celebrated with tzar pomp, was in 1698. 

    From 1700, when Peter the Great, looking at Europe, issued an edict by which New Year was moved to Christmas. It was forbidden to celebrate New Year in September and on 15 December 1969 drum-roll announced the beginning of the new century to people on the Red Square. The priest said that having thanked God and listened to service choral, it was ordered to rich people to decorate the streets with fir-, pine- and juniper- trees and to poor people to put some branches over the house gates. New Year Trees must be ready by 1 Jan and kept until 7 Jan. On the first day people must congratulate each other with New Year and  go to the Red Square where fireworks and shooting would begin. It was recommended to shoot from little canons or guns in yards three times and make little fires outside  every night. 
   It was Peter the Great who fired first salute announcing the beginning of the new year. Every toast of Peter the Great was accompanied by 25 canon shots. The sky was illuminated and painted in all colors, people congratulated each other, had fun, danced and made presents to each other. Peter the 1st watched steadily that our holiday was not worse or poorer than in European countries. 

  For the first time the celebration of New Year wasn't religious. Henceforward, this holiday has been the most favorite and popular one in Russia. 
So New Year has come to us with New Year Tree decorations, fires and lights, snow scratching under feet, children games and entertainments - sledge, ski, skate, snowmen, Father Frost and gifts.... 
It was easy to absorb new traditions, as Slavic people had another holiday "Svyatki" at this winter time, when there were sledge driving, fortune telling, jokes of masked youth and round dancing. 
Although it was very cold and frosty, people were not afraid of cold. The dancing around fires could warm anyone. 
    In the time of Peter, the Trees were not put in the houses, just decorated with branches. But what was before the New Year Tree?  There was a beautiful tradition to grow a cherry tree in the house by the beginning of new year in March. Blossoming tree and candles of "peace" round, isn't it marvelous picture? White cherry with tender petals like an elegant bride exhaled fragrance in houses. 
You know, the tradition to decorate  New Year Tree is more 2 000 years old. Why have people began tree decorating? Because of great magic of tree. In Druid horoscope the destiny of every man is connected with his tree. Different spirits live in your tree, so you need to please them by fruits, sweets and other gifts and evil will go away. It was considered fir branches drew away evil spirit and that's why they were hung near the door. 
    The firs came into our homes much later, only in 1830-s. At first firs were only in houses of rich Germans in Saint Petersburg (it was the capital of Russia at this time). By the end of the century the fir became the principal home attribute of New Year holiday. But after Revolution in 1918 the decoration of the fir was forbidden as "it belonged to Christmas holiday, so to religion as well". 
And only in 1949 1 January became a day off for all people again. 

New Year Pyrotechnics

One of the most common Russian traditions on New Yaer is to set off fireworks as well as different firecrackers, petards, Bengal lights and other pyrotechnics. This tradition have a millenial history and came from China. According to Chinese tradition, on New Year's Eve there appeared a lot of evil spirits which searched for refuges in people's houses in order to bring misfortune to them. So fireworks were used to banish evil spirits by means of great noise.

Sparklers. (bengal lights.)
Invention of bengal lights dates back to the 5-6 centiries AD. They first appeared in India or more exactlly in Bengal. During religious services and ceremonies priests could set a bright but short fire on the temple's altar. This fire became an "ancestor" of the modern sparkler.  

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Russian New Year Movies

Winter with all the holidays during this time of the year is very important part in lives of all Russian people. So no wonder that Russian cinematograph has created so many good movies dedicated to this period. Today we'll tell you about the best examples. Some of them are about New Year, some about Christmas, some are just classical fairy tales in winter decorations. But all these films create good and warm mood in every snowy and frosty day.

Ironiya Sudby ili s Legkim Parom (The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!) is a cult Soviet comedy-drama film directed by Eldar Ryazanov and based on his play "Odnazhdy v Novogodnyuyu Noch" (Once on New Year's Eve"). It is a traditional New Year movie, which is viewed by Russians every year during winter holidays. By its popularity, it can be compared with the American film It’s a Wonderful Life.
It is an unhurried romantic comedy, which looks more like theatrical play screened for TV. Great actors, interesting plot twists, notes of sadness and loneliness and unique atmosphere of holiday create wonderful movie, which is interesting to watch for many many times and which is as necessary for Russian New Year and Christmas, as Christmas tree or champagne.

Karnavalnaya Noch (The Carnival Night) is a 1956 Soviet musical film, the first big-screen film of the great Russian film director Eldar Ryazanov. The main role in this film made Lyudmila Gurchenko one of the most well-known actresses on the Soviet scene.
Members of the Economics Institute prepares for the New Year entartainment program, which includes a lot of funny performances, singing and dancing. Suddenly, a new director arrives and disapproves the scheduled entertainment, as he wants to make it more serious, something with annual reports and long speeches. Obviously, nobody agree with his plans, so the fight for the merry New Year is started.

Charodei (Magicians) is a 1982 Soviet film directed by Konstantin Bromberg, loosely based on the science fantasy novel Monday Begins on Saturday by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. It is one of classic Soviet New Year's Eve romantic comedies, such as Irony of Fate and The Carnival Night.

Sirota Kazanskaya (Kazan Orphan) is a lyrical New Year comedy. Village teacher Nastya decides to find her father, who she knows nothing about. She sends a letter in the newspaper. On December 31, three different men come to her house, each of them is absolutely sure that he is real father of Nastya.

Dzhentelmeny Udachi (Gentlemen Of Fortune) is a classical Soviet comedy, not related to winter holidays very closely, but still it is a necessary part of Russian New Year TV-programme.
The movie follows the story of an amiable kindergarten director named Troshkin who looks exactly like a criminal called Docent, who has stolen Alexander the Great's helmet at an archaeological excavation. Docent and his gang are caught by police, but Docent is imprisoned in a different jail than his mates. Since Troshkin looks identical to Docent, the police send him undercover to prison with the real criminals to get information about the stolen helmet.

Eta Vesyolaya Planeta (This Funny Planet) is a fantastic musical comedy, which tells about aliens who came to the Earth on New Year's night and find themselves at the merry party. As everybody around in carnival costumes, aliens are considered as normal people.

Prikhodi na Menya Posmotret (Come to Look at Me)
Lyrical and touching story about a spinster woman, who tends her disabled mother. The old lady desperately wants her daughter to marry, and the daughter, driven by the supposed imminent death of her mother, invites a total stranger home on the New Year's night and introduces him as her boyfriend.
The best choice for those who want to watch a romantic holiday film, but just can't see "The Irony of Fate" on the screen anymore.

Morozko ("Father Frost")
This beautifully costumed film for children is based on a popular Russian fairy tale. The film's director is Alexander Row, who pioneered the genre of a fairy-tale screen adaptation. Even Steven Spilberg paid tribute to Row's enchanting fairy tales.
The story tells about a kind girl Nastenka who works very hard and suffers from her stepmother. One day the cruel woman decided to get rid of her stepdaughter by sending her to a winter forest for her to freeze to death there. Luckily, Nastenka is saved by the Father Frost, but this is only the beginning of her adventures.

Stary Novy God (The Old New Year)
Two families move into the new house and become neighbours. One family is from cerebral society, the other is from
working class. In the unique Russian holiday "The Old New Year" (January 13) heads of the both families
decide to change their lives cardinally.
This is a very significant movie, as it tells about such a unique Russian tradition as celebrating New Year according to old calendary. Besides, it is a good material on psychology of Russian people, their interesting view of the world. And it is just a great comedy.

Snezhnaya Koroleva (The Snow Queen)
The film is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the original script is written by the Russian well-known writer Yevgheny Schwartz.
It is a story about little, but kind and brave girl Gerda, who goes to a wonderful and dangerous journey to find her friend, Kai, who was kidnapped by a powerful wicked fairy, the Snow Queen, and taken to her kingdom.
This film looks really great even in our times, as it's made with great attention to the characters of the original fairy-tale. There are a lot of complicated filming tricks, the best actors and wonderful decorations. And it's just a a touching story of great love and fiendship.

Vechera na Khutore Bliz Dikanki (Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka Village)
The film is based on the story "Christmas Eve" by Russian and Ukranian writer Nikolai Gogol. The film's director and scriptwriter is Alexander Row (Morozko). This story is an unique combination of old Russian and Ukranian traditions, legends and myths. It has wonderful atmosphere of winter Christmas nights in Slavic villages and stories which are often told on these nights.
The action takes place both in a village of Dikanka in the Ukraine and at the palace of a Russian Empress. Blacksmith Vacula loves a haughty girl Oksana, who demands for a Christmas present a pair of tcherevichki (shoes) that the Empress wears. Only then she will agree to marry Vacula. Devil promises to help Vacula if on condition that the blacksmith sells him his soul. But Vacula was no fool.

Snegurochka (Snow Maiden)
A classical fairy tale film based on the play of the same name by Ostrovsky from his cicle "Spring Tales". This film is probably closer to ancient Slavic and pagan traditions than all the other films. It is highly recommended to those who are interested in Russian ancient legends and those who just want to watch a film about a strange girl and an unusual love mixed with mysticism.
Snegurochka suddenly appears in some Russian village, people say she is a daughter of Father Frost and Spring. The girl is so beautiful that many young men fell in love with her, but she is also cold and indifferent, which brings some love tragedies to the calm village. Trying to find feelings, Snegurochka comes to Mother Spring.

Monday, 17 December 2012

The "Holy Supper"

                                                          The "Holy Supper"
  Christmas is one of the most joyous traditions for the celebration of Eve comes from the Russian tradition. On the Eve of Christmas, it is traditional for all family members to gather to share a special meal. The various foods and customs surrounding this meal differed in Holy Russia from village to village and from family to family, but certain aspects remained the same.
  Once the first star has appeared in the sky, the festivities begin. Although all of the food served is strictly Lenten, it is served in an unusually festive and anticipatory manner and style. The Russians call this meal: "The Holy Supper." The family gathers around the table to honor the coming Christ Child.
   Christmas Eve dinner is meatless but festive. The most important ingredient is a special porridge called kutya. It is made of wheatberries or other grains which symbolize hope and immortality, and honey and poppy seeds which ensure happiness, success, and untroubled rest. A ceremony involving the blessing of the home is frequently observed. The kutya is eaten from a common dish to symbolize unity. Some families used to throw a spoonful of kutya up to the ceiling. According to tradition, if the kutya stuck, there would be a plentiful honey harvest.

Traditionally, the "Holy Supper" consists of 12 different foods, symbolic of the 12 Apostles. 
1) Mushroom soup with zaprashka; this is often replaced with Sauerkraut soup
2) Lenten bread ("pagach")
3) Grated garlic
4) Bowl of honey
 5) Baked cod
6) Fresh Apricots, Oranges, Figs and Dates
7) Nuts
8) Kidney beans (slow cooked 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 poppyseed with honey)
12) Red Wine

Ded Moroz & Snegurochka

Ded Moroz is a fictional character who in some Slavic cultures plays a role similar to that of Santa Claus. The literal translation of the name would be "Old Man Frost", although the name is often translated as "Father Frost" in light of the modern usage of "ded" to refer to a grandfather. Ded Moroz is said to bring presents to children, however, unlike the secretive Santa Claus, the gifts are often delivered "in person", at New Year's Eve parties and other New Year celebrations. The "in-person" gifts usually occur at organized celebrations at kindergartens or schools and at circus performances around New Year time where the gifts can be standardized. Various agencies provide Ded Moroz visits to families and offices. In such cases specific gifts can be chosen for particular members at the parties. The clandestine placing of gifts under a New Year tree occurs when a Ded Moroz visit is not arranged for some reason.
The traditional appearance of Ded Moroz resembles that of Santa Claus, with his coat, boots and long white beard. Specifically, Ded Moroz is often shown wearing a heel-length fur coat, a semi-round fur hat, and valenki or jackboots on his feet. Unlike Santa Claus, he is often depicted as walking with a long magical staff.
The official residence of Ded Moroz in Russia is considered to be the town of Veliky Ustyug.
Depictions of Ded Moroz commonly show him accompanied by Snegurochka.  His granddaughter and helper, who is often depicted in long silver-blue robes and a furry cap or a snowflake-like crown. She is a unique attribute of Ded Moroz; no traditional gift-givers from other cultures are portrayed with a similar companion. Just as Ded Moroz appears in various interpretations during the holiday season impersonated by men in costume, so does Snegurochka assume new guises around Russia to help distribute gifts. Snegurochka's name is derived from the Russian word for snow, sneg. 

Russian New Year Table

Since the mid XX century, most Russians celebrate the New Year at home, meeting with family or guests at the dinner table. New Year's holiday menu, has its own traditions and canons too. The main feast at the holiday table is the large number of salads and snacks, as well as traditional pickles and marinades. Beautifully decorated snacks are placed in the center of the table, so that every guest could try what he likes. Russian salads are significantly different from their European counterparts - many of them are made from the boiled vegetables and mayonnaise. The most favorite salad of Russians and the main dish on New Year's table is, of course, Olivier. It is made from boiled beef or chicken, with boiled potatoes, carrots, onions, pickles, boiled egg, green peas and mayonnaise. Many housewives substitute meat for sausage or ham in this salad. This is due to the fact that in Soviet times, in the stores it was not always possible to buy meat.

Rich Festive Table
Though there are a lot of different ways to celebrate New Year in Russia, most people still prefer to gather around the rich festive table accompanied by their relatives and close friends. There are no any traditional New Year and Christmas dishes on Russian tables (expect the ones, we'll tell you later about), so every family cooks snacks, salads, meat and deserts in accordance with its own domestic traditions. But the general tradition is to make the festive table rich and plentiful, using interesting recipes and delicacies. So you won't be disappointed if you be invited to celebrate New Year at somebody's Russian house.  

In the Soviet time tangerines were a sort of hard-to-get thing, so that fruit was served on the Soviet peoples' tables only once a year - during New Year holidays. No wonder that several generations linked the taste and scent of tangerines with New Year holidays. Now Russian people don't know such a word as "deficit" and tangerines can be bought everywhere. But their scent still reminds people about merry winter holidays, so that fruit is a mandatory attribute on the feast tables in Russia.

Russian Salad (Salade Olivier)Classical Salade Olivier was invented in the 1860s by Lucien Olivier, the chef of the Hermitage 
restaurant, one of Moscow's most celebrated restaurants. Later the recipe was simplified, some rare ingredients were swapped for something more accessible in the Soviet Union. The modern version of the popular salad, named "Russian Salad" includes meat (cow tongue or red beef meet or bologna sausage or non-spicy ham or white chicken meat), eggs, carrots, potatoes, apple, pickles, cucumber, green peas, onion and mayonnaise with sour cream as a souse. This salad is the main and necessary dish at ever holiday and especially on New Year's night. It is quite easy to cook and also very tasty and filling.

New Year fortune telling

There are also a lot of rituals for people, mostly girls, who want to know their future for the next year. Girls in the old times mainly wanted to know about their marriage (apparently this is still the case!). According to tradition, the night of old New Year's Day, 13th January, gives the most truthful predictions.

Wax: This involves melting wax and pouring it onto water. It will solidify into a shape. From this shape, you must judge your future. If it is a house, you will live well this year. If circles, you will have good fortune. If some kind of fruit or animal, you will have good health. If it is a man, then you know what that means! 

Paper: Screw up some paper, put it on a tray and set fire to it. When it stops burning, lift the tray to a wall in front of some light. The shadow of the burnt paper should cast a shape onto the wall. You can predict the coming year’s luck from the shape of this shadow.

King of Diamonds: Take a deck of playing cards and remove the King of Diamonds. Put it under your pillow on a night between 6th-13th December and you will dream of your future husband(s)!

Onions: A group of girls take an onion each. Each girl plants her onion in the ground, somewhere she will remember. The girl whose onion first grows roots will be the first to marry.

Lucky Dip: Take a golden ring, a loaf of bread and a hook. Lay them on a table and cover them with cloth. Then pick an object without looking. If you choose the ring, your husband will be vain. If the bread, your husband will be rich. If you get the hook, your future husband will be poor.

Banya: Considered the most frightening and bewitching ceremony of olde. You have to be alone for this and it is considered the most accurate of all. There must be no light in the Banya (Russian bath-house) apart from your candle. Take a mirror (or two) and place it on a table. Put the candle in front of the mirror. Sit in front of the mirror and stare at your reflection for a long time - a very long time. It is said that you will envision your future in the mirror. It is believed that if a girl sees her coffin then she will die the same year. Not surprisingly, it is normally the future husband who appears in front of her eyes! 

Stories round the fire: It is nice to huddle round with family or friends and read folk tales in the winter months. The scene at the top of the page comes out of the first series of Gogol’s "Evenings Near the Village of Dikanka" - a collection of tales based on Ukrainian folklore published in 1832. In the story "The Night Before Christmas," the main character is Vakula, who is a messenger of sorts between the world of good and evil. Vakula is the man on the devil's back and they are on their way to Catherine II's court. The priest is knocking at the door of Chub and Solokha.