Thursday, January 19, 2012

Polar Bear Club: Russian Orthodox Style

Today is a religious holiday in Russia, the day on which Jesus Christ is thought to have been baptized. And so it is that each January 19th, devotees of Orthodoxy follow suit in a way and jump into icy rivers of Russia in hopes of having their sins forgiven. The ritual includes genuflecting and bobbing under the water several times.

This evening two members of my Bible archeology class came telling of their jumping into the Don River earlier today. It feels like being stuck by a hundred needles, said Herman, 13.

How about you, dear blog reader, have you ever participated in this January 19th tradition? Or have you ever joined a polar bear club, jumping into icy waters just for the sheer fun of it?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Russia Celebrates *Old New Year*

Families across Russia are preparing to celebrate the Old New Year this evening. This is not an official holiday on the calendar but by the time the fireworks fade away, Russia's holiday season will be a wrap.

The Old New Year is a throwback to the past. And oh my goodness, as fascinating as it is, this drama between the Gregorian and Julian calendars gets complicated. So tell you what, check out this blog post, Here's to a Bean in Your Dumpling with all the scintillating details. Warning: You too might end up craving varenki. And then here's the definitive word on the holiday, Old but Still New, straight from Voice of Russia.

Happy Old New Year to you and yours. Stocking up on vareniki at the supermarket. this young lady was happy to pose.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Dragons Overtake the City

Three days into the new year and Rostov is besieged with dragons. They're everywhere ~ on the streets, in markets and, thanks to well-meaning friends, two are now living with me. Welcome to 2012, the Year of the Dragon.

As you may know, as per the Chinese Horoscope legend, one of 12 animals takes its turn to rule the year. Some cultures are serious this. We can assume that China is totally gung-ho and here in Russia, the Year of the Whatever is popular too. I'm remembering that 2008 was the Year of the Rat, then in 2010 came the Year of the Tiger and I was totally oblivious to animal of 2011.

Interestingly, at local theaters is showing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And what think ye, dear blog reader, would this be a coincidence or nyet ~ that this movie was released in time for the Year of the Dragon? (Click photo to enlarge.)

Will you be seeing this movie? Think I'll find dragons elsewhere. . .

Here are dragons on Voroshilovski Street. Got some rubles handy? Tempted to ask this sales lady about her official title. Imagine if it were Vendor of Dragons. How about that on a resume?

Dragons up close, rather domesticated, in fact. . .

Besides toy dragons, on New Year's cards, paper dragons are available. Let's have a peek.

Happy little dragons. One has a verse inside. . .

Ahem, let's have some fun (or not) and translate this thing. . .
Let the cute little dragon bring success and joy the whole year. All will be "Outstanding, " all will be successful and in everything will be good luck. (The "Outstanding" here means an A+, as in school work.) Well now, if that doesn't just warm the heart. . .

Peter, Paul and Mary are itching to share their special dragon song. Could they have released this in a Year of the Dragon? There are ways to find out, of course. Besides that, we could wallow in theories about subtle meanings of the lyrics. But hey, for those of us of a certain age, we can enjoy the memories. . .

Thank you dear friends for your interest in the Year of the Dragon. Wishing you a splendid new year. And, should any unpleasant dragons cross your path in 2012, may you successfully slay each and every one of them.