Many of you ended your holiday celebrations weeks ago but for Russia, today is the last day before the country goes back to business as usual. Russians don’t celebrate December 25th as the main event like we do in the States. Rather, they use the Russian Orthodox calendar and celebrate Christmas in January. New Years is the biggest holiday of all and from December 31-January 12, the country is mostly shut down as everyone visits loved ones and, for the most part, hunker down indoors away from the cold. The Embassy is closed for both US and Russian holidays which has been great fun for our family. We took advantage of the empty roads (which are normally clogged with the worst traffic on earth) and explored the city. Over the holidays we also attended several parties hosted by the Embassy, pre-school, and the community we live in. There are some Christmas/New Years characters in Russian tradition that we aren’t familiar with. Rather than Santa, they have Дед Мороз (Ded Moroz, or in English, “Father Frost”) who is often accompanied by his granddaughter, Снегурочка,(Snegurochka or “Snow Maiden”). These two seem reasonable but also in attendance at the celebrations are a neon duck, bunny, fox and a few animals that I couldn’t identify. It’s confusing and strange and one of my favorite parts of living overseas. I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of complete bewilderment as I observe traditions and ceremonies that are fantastical and unexplainable to me but obviously familiar to my host country. It makes me try to view our own traditions from the perspective of an outsider.
The children also took turns using long cloth hands to try and knock hats off one another. Danny was pulled in to compete against another father in a “Big Man” round. He lost decidedly. 🙂 The best part of the day was absolutely the mulled wine. We need more mulled wine during holiday parties in the U.S. Between all the days off and the mulled wine, we are quickly coming on board with some of the more European aspects of life!