Here are videos in English on Orthodox Christmas from Russia Today. Thanks to Tim Connelly for the link.
Saturday, 9 January 2010
We call the twelve days after Christmas to Epiphany the Svyatki, that is, holy days; the coming of the Saviour of the world sanctifies them. The Church began to celebrate these special days in ancient times. In the 6th century, in the canons, St Sabbas wrote that during the Svyatki we are not supposed to prostrate ourselves or perform weddings. The Second Council of Truro in 567 proclaimed all the days from Christmas to Epiphany as holidays. In the beginning of the Svyatki, traditionally, we take presents and gifts and visit neighbours, relatives, and friends, in memory of the gifts brought by the Magi to the God-Infant (Богомладенцу). Housewives beautifully cover the tables; they prepare delicious special foods. We also take care to remember the poor, the sick, and the needy. We visit children’s homes, orphanages, hospitals, and prisons. In ancient times, during the Svyatki, kings would disguise themselves as common people so that they could visit the prisons and gave alms to the prisoners.
A special tradition of the Svyatki in Russia was kolyadovanie (carolling), or, some called it slavlenie (literally, “glorying”, idiomatically, “praising”). Teens and kids dressed up, they went from house to house with a big homemade star, singing church hymns such as the Tropar and Kondak of the feast, and they sang spiritual songs, kolyadki (carols), about Christmas. Just about everybody had the custom of kolyadovanie, but every region did it just a little bit differently. In some areas of Russia, a “cave” replaced the star. It was a kind of puppet theatre, depicting the scene of the Nativity of Christ. Our folkloric and literary creativity draws much inspiration from the festival of the Svyatki. The days of Christmas become, in the words of the famous Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “days that bring the family together”, they are days of mercy and reconciliation. Stories about the good and wonderful things that happen to people at Christmas are called Svyatki stories (святочных историй).
If you click on the URL above, there are video clips and MP3 selections on the page. They’re short, so the fact that the narration is in Russian shouldn’t be a problem. Indeed, there is a great deal of our holiday music on them… enjoy! Here’s a direct link to one of the videos.
Russian Orthodox believers at Nativity of the Mother of God parish in the village of Petrushin in the Diocese of Chernigov… Merry Christmas!
Tonight, Orthodox Christians began to celebrate one of the biggest church holidays… Christmas. Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, according to tradition, was the main celebrant at the main Christmas service in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which, despite the severe frost, drew about 4,000 worshippers. This was the first Christmas liturgy celebrated by Patriarch Kirill after his election as First hierarch of the MP in late January of last year. President Dmitri Medvedev was present for the patriarchal liturgy. Solemn prayers rose from some 800 Orthodox churches in Moscow and approximately 30,000 Russian churches around the world, for that is how many parishes there are today in the Moscow Patriarchate.
Not only are believers in the MP praising the birth of the Saviour of the world today, but also the faithful of the Local Churches of Serbia, Georgia, and Jerusalem, who follow the traditional Church calendar. One of the central liturgies was in Bethlehem in a basilica built over the vaults of the cave of the Nativity of Christ. According to a poll of the Yuri Levada Analytical Centre, about two-thirds of all Russians plan to celebrate Orthodox Christmas. In giving his Christmas greetings to the faithful, Patriarch Kirill called to mind the importance of Christmas holiday, which brings us closer as the people of God, and urged us to remember God’s eternal truths, “which are the only things that can transform our lives”.
From this Thursday until the holiday of Epiphany on 19 January, Orthodox believers will keep the Holy Days (святки), these are blessed and joyful days, when people celebrate the birth of the Saviour. This tradition dates back to the practise of the ancient Church, when Christmas and Epiphany were observed together as a single holy day. According to historians, the very date of the celebration of Christmas was adopted with some degree of conditionality; as in the days of Christ, the people in Judea used a lunar calendar, which is often difficult to compare with the solar calendar. Nevertheless, this day is consecrated by Church Tradition of some 2,000 years.
7 January 2010
Does your parish keep the Syatki? Did it ever keep them? On the other hand, does it keep a false “Advent” like the heterodox, complete with a wreath? Did you celebrate on the Church calendar or on the papist calendar? These are not minor affairs… I can’t understand why some are so fired up to have our Church calendar coincide exactly with the heterodox. We have our ways and they have theirs… is that so hard to understand? As far as converts are concerned… well, you must accept us as we are or I suggest that you found your own group. It’s far more honest, and you’re being true to God. I don’t believe that God is going to cast all non-Orthodox into the pit… rather, those outside the visible Church are in God’s hands, which is, surely, not a bad thing at all. However, an imposture of Orthodoxy… need I continue?
Some strong meat to think upon, no?
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko (1954- )
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that the global economic crisis has a spiritual cause. “My firm conviction is that the economic crisis was, in fact, an inevitable consequence of a spiritual crisis. The human envy, theft, fraud, speculation in financial markets, and corruption accumulated over the years and swept over the whole world”, President Lukashenko said on Friday at the awards ceremony “For Spiritual Revival” and for special prizes of the Belarusian President in Art and Culture for 2009. According to President Lukashenko, translated from the Greek language, “crisis” means “outcome”. “I fully agree with our Patriarch Kirill, who said, ‘The crisis is the judgement of God on human injustice, on greed, on the inordinate desire to have as much as possible, and on the loss of control over our consumption. It is a judgement on the desire to get rich by any means, forgetting true values and real ideas’”.
Mr Lukashenko emphasised that “the spiritual crisis is much worse than any economic shock because it’s much more difficult to overcome, and it takes us much more time [to deal with it]. Very often, people berate our country for our old-fashioned moral values; they say that we’re stuck in the past, that we’re not part of the newfangled trend of globalisation. Well, maybe so, but I am convinced that this is our greatest achievement. We should be proud that the concepts of morality and spirituality are still sacred to us, that’s how we’ll raise our children, and that’s how we’ll build a state ideology. The experience of last year clearly demonstrated that it’s precisely those countries that defend their independence and spiritual identity that find it easier to cope with economic problems”.
8 January 2010
Patriarch Kirill’s words bear repeating:
The crisis is the judgement of God on human injustice, on greed, on the inordinate desire to have as much as possible, and on the loss of control over our consumption. It is a judgement on the desire to get rich by any means, forgetting true values and real ideas.
This is an indictment of the whole Anglo-Saxon Americanist suburban enterprise and exposes the vacuity at its core. Firstly, I am aware that many Americans of Anglo-Saxon descent are as aghast at the greed and rapine shown by the secularist pirates as I am. Oddly enough, you mostly find them outside the Church… I fear that all too many Anglo-Saxons in Orthodoxy are suburbanite nihilists to the core. JP gives us nothing but happy talk… Hatfield brings Uniates to SVS to mock the Church… it’s enough to make any decent person reach for the bottle.
Reflect well on the fact that SVS hates Aleksandr Lukashenko and everything that he stands for. I wonder why… their conscience bothers them… God willing? I’m not going to waste much more of my time on these sorts… “20-year plans” when there aren’t two cents to rub together and the invitation of Anglicans to speak on the Philokalia make me wish to wash my hands of the whole sorry mess and walk away… but is that a loving response? Does one leave one’s compatriots in the lurch when interlopers step in and attempt to take over? It’s not easy… it would be simpler just to stick with things Russian and let JP, Hatfield, and the rest of their merry men run roughshod… but could I live with myself?
There are compelling arguments on both sides… it’ll take some time to resolve, I am sure. One thing is certain… Either I shall turn my back and never look back, or, I shall fight, even if it means defeat. Acquiescence in their manifest evil is not in the cards… a Christian cannot yoke themselves unequally with an unbeliever.