Theodore Тiоutсheff about Russia

11:34 PM / Posted by Linda McGregory / comments (0)

You'll never get it in your mind,
And common measures there can't be.
A special trait here you can find.
In Russia you may just believe...
November 28, 1866
These beautiful words wrote about Russia our great poet Theodore Tioutcheff. Together with Lermontov, Yesenin and other poets of all the epochs he was fascinated by the enigmatic Russia soul which remains undiscovered for people from other countries.


Old New Year!!!

4:50 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory / comments (0)

There is a tradition in Russia to celebrate New Year's coming two times a year - according to both Gregorian and Julian calendars. The Old New Year's day, coming on the 13th of January, is a very popular holiday in Russia.

The most famous symbol of this holiday is vareniks (boiled dough with filling, which is usually smashed potatoes). We cook vareniks with surprises - some special ingredients we put into every varenik. Every ingredient denotes something that may happen with a person this year. There are the following ingredients:
  • salt denotes misfortunes

  • sugar - luxurious life

  • pepper - hard life

  • cotton wool - smooth life

  • raisin - career growth

  • a gold ring - a wedding

  • a key - a new flat

  • thread - a journey

and etc.

How did my family celebrate The Old New Year
My mother and I secretly put "surprises" into vareniks. After they were boiled we served a table: red wine, some salads and the king of the table - a dish with vareniks. Every person chooses vareniks himself or herself. Then, breaking a varenik carefully in two pieces, we find out what there is in. The dinner on the Old New Year's Eve is very cheerful and funny. This year is not an exception. My husband and I found a thread which means a journey, coins denoting wealth and buttons meaning new clothes.
My father and mother were not so successful. Father, making a wry face, was chewing a peppered varenik and my mother - a salted one.
Happy Old New Year to you all!



2:32 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory / comments (2)

Sviatki refers to the yuletide or Christmas season. Prior to 1917, Sviatki ran from December 25, for 12 days until January 7. This period symbolized the time between Christ's Birth and Baptism. After 1917, with most of the rest of the world adopting the Gregorian calendar, December 25 (Julian) appears as January 7 (Gregorian). Today, Russian's enjoy a secular Christmas on December 25 (Gregorian) and their Church celebration on January 7 (Gregorian which appears as December 25 on the Julian or old calendar).
Prior to Tsar Peter the Great, the Muscovy calendar placed the first day of the new year on September 1. Peter, in 1699, determined that New Year's Day should be on January 1 and further ordered that all households would sport festive lights and a seven day feast would commence.
Very popular during Sviatki was the practice of mumming. Mummers were, typically, young folk who would dress up in colorful and clown like costumes. They would race through the streets of their village in their troikas, visiting and entertaining neighbors and friends with song, dance and games. Second only to Paskha (Easter) Sviatki was the most holy time of the year. It was, also, the gayest. Carols and folk songs, known as Kolyadki, were sung to herald Christ's Birth and the coming of a new year. Trees were decorated, gifts given and a great Christmas feast enjoyed by gatherings of family and friends.
During the years following the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) and the end of tsarist rule in Russia, Sviatki took on a different meaning and tradition. The Soviets sought to suppress and outlaw any and all forms of religious expression or celebration and either destroyed church buildings or converted them into public/governmental centers. Thus, the Nativity of Christ was replaced by an emphasis on the celebration of the winter solstice and new year. There remained, throughout the Soviet Era, groups of Russian Orthodox Christians who continued to celebrate and practice their faith and its holidays; but not without consequence.
Now Sviatki are associated with fortune-telling.
New Year and Christmas fortune-tellings.
Once the girls were having fun.
Threw the slippers - they were gone.
Off the gates the slippers fell -
So the girls their fortune tell
V.A. Zhukovsky
Fortune-telling or sorcery is a very interesting, enchanting process but dangerous one. The most favourable time for it fell on Sviatki. The best days for fortune-telling were considered to be the 13th and the 19th of January.
Fortune-telling by mirror
  • You need two big and equal mirrors to set them one opposite each other. Between them you place two candles so that there must be a long corridor lighted with candles. A person who does it must be alone or with somebody who is also interested in it. They must keep silense. No animals in a room. You sit in front of one mirror so that to see the reflection in another one. The moment you see your future groom you must cover the mirror with a cloth otherwise who knows what can happen...

Fortune-telling by a ring

  • Put a thread through a golden ring. Pour some water into a glass. Lower a thread with the ring into the glass with water. It'll begin to swing and knock against the borders. Count the number of strikes - they denote the age when you'll get married.

Fortune-telling by wax

  • Melt a piece of wax in a spoon and pour it into a cold water. Guess what the image means.

Fortune-telling by names

  • Write down all the male names you know on the pieces of paper and put them under your pillow. Before you fall asleep say "My fiance, come into my dream". You must see HIM in your dream. When you wake up in the morning, the first thing take a piece of paper under a pillow and find out the name of your future husband.


Christmas in Russia

1:05 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory / comments (0)

Today is the 9th of January - the third day of Svyatki. It is the period starting from the 7th of January - Christmas Day - and lasting up to the 19th of January - The Day of Kreshchenie (Epiphany).
Christmas in Russia differs much from that in Catholic countries.
Most Christian Russians belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, and it is customary to fast until after the first church service on January 6, Christmas Eve. The church in Russia still uses the old Julian calendar, therefore their Christmas celebration is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar that is used in Catholic countries.
Many other religious and folk traditions were suppressed during the communist era. For many Russians, a return to religion represents a return to their old roots and their old culture. Throughout Russia, after Christmas Eve services, people carrying candles, torches, and homemade lanterns parade around the church, just as their grandparents and great-grandparents did long ago. The Krestny Khod procession (religious procession) is led by the highest-ranking member of the Russian Orthodox Church, now it is Patriarch Alexei the Second. After the procession completes its circle around the church, the congregation reenters and they sing several carols and hymns before going home for a late Christmas Eve dinner.

True Christians keep the 40-days fast, but unfortunately there are not many people whose faith is still strong enough to give up the meals which is served on New Year's Day. It can be explained by the influence of the Soviet period.

The New Year's tree - Yelka - is also an essential part of Christmas.

Traditional Christmas dinner consists of 12 dishes (according to the number of apostles). It starts after the first star. The whole day of January 6 people do not eat, waiting for the Christmas dinner.

Christmas Eve dinner is meatless but festive. The most important ingredient is a special porridge called kutya. It is made of wheat berries 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. Before starting the dinner, people eat three spoons of kutya. According to tradition, if the kutya stuck, there would be a plentiful honey harvest.

Another traditional meal is pie filled with cabbage, potatoes and other ingredients.

On the whole, it is one of the best holidays here in Russia, but it is not so widely celebrated as New Year's Day.
(pic from