Voices from Russia

Friday, 13 January 2012

VOR Presents… Old New Year’s Eve: The Second Time Around

On the night before 14 January, Russians celebrate one of their most paradoxical and favourite holidays… the Old New Year. The tradition to celebrate Old New Year comes from the differences between the Julian (also called “Old Style”) and Gregorian calendars, the latter of which is now virtually the universal standard throughout the entire globe. The discrepancy between the calendars in the 20th and 21st centuries is 13 days {and will go to 14 days in  the 22nd century, due to differences in calculating leap years: editor}.

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Old New Year is a rare historical phenomenon, an additional holiday, which came about because of a change of era. Because of this calendar discrepancy, we now note two “New Years”… Old and New Style.

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Ever since 1918, when Russia switched over to the “New Style” calendar, it’s been a tradition to celebrate the Old New Year.

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On the Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills) in Moscow, revelers display paper flying lanterns in honour of the the Old New Year.

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In the Russia, the tradition to celebrate the Old New Year came about because the Orthodox Church in Russia still marks all religious holidays according to the Julian calendar (Old Style). The modern New Year falls during the Christmas Lent… it’s an Orthodox day of abstinence to prepare for the coming Christmas holiday {which falls on 7 January on the secular calendar: editor}.

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Thus, on the night of 13 to 14 January, everyone who can afford to “re-celebrate” marks this most favourite holiday. For many believers, Old New Year’s of particular importance because they can only celebrate it with full vigour and soulfully after the end of Christmas Lent.

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After the collapse of the Soviet Union, besides Russia, people also celebrated the Old New Year in Moldova, Armenia, Byelorussia, Latvia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan (about 40% of the population), and Georgia, as well as by Slavs and residents of other former Soviet republics and Orthodox countries in the Near and Far Abroad. In the image above, revellers in Carpatho-Russia celebrate the Old New Year, or as they say in po-nashemu, Malanku.

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Young men and soldiers from the Siberian District of the MVD Internal Troops hold a mock fist fight to celebrate the Old New Year in Trinity Square.

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In Russia before 1918, the arrival of the New Year came during the Holy Days (Svyatki) between Christmas and Epiphany, so all the traditional people’s new-year omens, divination, carnivals and carol-sing are more applicable to the Old New Year than to the celebration of the modern New Year.

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Villagers from Zakalnoe sing kolyadki during the celebration of the Old New Year.

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It’s interesting that the difference between Julian and Gregorian calendars grows every century, when the first two digits of the number of the beginning of the century isn’t evenly divisible by four, the difference grows by one day.

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In Carpatho-Russia, on 13 January, they celebrate the Old New Year or Malanku. Here, we see revellers wearing costumes.

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Today, year in and year out, Old New Year’s is growing in popularity, and Russia is no exception. More people refer to it as independent holiday, which extends the cheer of New Year, or it’s when you truly feel it’s the charm for the first time. In fact, this holiday’s more relaxing, for people don’t feel the pressure that inevitably accompanies the modern New Year.

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Here’s a hint… the most traditional dishes for the Old New Year’s table are pork products. An Old New Year’s meal isn’t skimpy… on Vasiliev Vecher (St Basil’s Eve), everything was the best and tastiest that one could get, people normally had meat pies, kolbasy (sausages), meat, bliny (pancakes), kutya, and kasha, and people washed it all down with beer, wine, and vodka. The Old New Year’s table HAS to have kutya and any kind of pork, as St Basil is the patron saint of pigs. Also usual were dishes containing rabbit and chicken. According to popular belief, eating rabbit made one nimble as a hare, to eat chicken made one as light as a bird. If one was well-off, a boar’s or pig’s head as the centrepiece of the spread table was obligatory.

http://ria.ru/infografika/20120113/538360115.html (if you click on the link, it has some recipes in Russian)

http://ria.ru/ny2012_food_recipes/20120105/517173924.html (here’s some Christmas recipes in Russian)

13 January 2012

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/photoalbum/39603318/63809324/index.html

Children of the Euro Crisis

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The problems engendered by the current financial crisis forces Greek parents to abandon their own children. Many compare the current situation in Greece the devastation of the Civil War that tore apart the country after World War II

A teacher at an Athens nursery found a note from a four-year-old girl’s mother in the girl’s jacket… “Today, I didn’t come to pick up Anna, because I can’t afford to raise her. Please, take care of her. I’m sorry”. The local media made this story well-known. Not only local Greek media outlets cover such dramatic events, even British outlets cover them. According to the Daily Mail, the situation that’s arisen in the social sphere is “the most tragic consequence of the Euro zone crisis”. Staff of charities reported several somewhat similar incidents, where parents literally “surrendered” their own young children. According to the BBC, one of these organisations in Athens, SOS Children’s Villages, reported “hundreds of cases” in the last year when parents tried to abandon their children “for economic reasons”.

The last time the Greeks faced a similar situation was in the second half of the 1940s, in the post-war chaos and Civil War. The Daily Mail reported on another serious problem in Greece sparked off by the crisis, exacerbated by the economic steps taken by the government, a shortage of essential drugs. In other “problem” states, the situation is only marginally better. The new prime minister of Italy, Mario Monti, told German Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel that the government of his country has already done what it can in terms of budgetary reductions, and now have to rely on “specific assistance” from EU institutions. He pointed up that if such aid weren’t forthcoming there’d be a real threat of “a powerful anti-European turn” in the minds of the masses. Sr Monti said, “Europe isn’t only a fiscal construct. It’s very important to start putting forth constructive political energy”. According to experts at the European Central Bank, for instance, Spain could have even more serious socio-economic problems.

However, Bundeskanzlerin Merkel made it clear that she’s opposed to an “Upload” in the budgets of Greece and Italy from German taxpayers. Yelena Ponomarevna, an expert in comparative politics at the RF MID MGIMO spoke to VOR, saying, “It makes little sense in this situation to invoke a sense of collective responsibility and, moreover, to attempt to use criteria based on humanistic values. These values ​​are absent in today’s market. Therefore, socio-economic development is treated in like fashion. If there’s an increase in the market, if dislocation or humanitarian disasters occur, it doesn’t matter. Therefore, EU enlargement and the advent of a single currency zone didn’t eliminate social and economic problems and imbalances. It’s even more difficult to do so at the peak of a crisis. So, perhaps, that’s what happened to the Greeks, and to all the other people suffering from the crisis… the worst is yet to come”.

13 January 2012

Pyotr Iskenderov

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/2012/01/13/63789984.html

13 January 2012. A Thought From Fr Vsevolod…

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Igumen Ephrem Will Remain in Custody

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The acquittal of the Supreme Court of Greece (the Areopagus) in the case of Archimandrite Ephrem, the abbot of Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, won’t result in his release from custody. On Thursday, a spokesman for the Russian Society of Friends of Vatopedi told Interfax-Religion, “This decision relates to the decision of the Court of Appeal of Rhodope, but not the Athens Court of Appeal, according to whose decision Elder Ephrem was taken into custody. The Areopagus acquittal’s another positive step in the development of the Vatopedi case, but it doesn’t cancel the order for the pre-trial detention of Archimandrite Ephrem”. Thus, our contact continued, “[Igumen Ephrem] remains behind bars and still needs our support”. The Areopagus overturned the verdict of the Court of Appeal of Rhodope imposing a ten-month prison (with a three-year grace period) on Fr Ephrem and two other people. The case opened at the Rhodope court, like the case in the Athens court, looked into the circumstances of real estate transactions between Vatopedi and the Greek state, will be reviewed by the Court of Appeal of Thrace.

As reported in December 2011, a Greek court ordered Fr Ephrem’s arrest in connection with an investigation of real estate transactions between Vatopedi and the Greek state in 2008. In late December, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias wrote a letter to Greek President Karolos Papoulias asking for Archimandrite Ephrem’s release from custody, expressing surprise at his pre-trial incarceration as “[Fr Ephrem] doesn’t pose a threat to society and repeatedly expressed his willingness to cooperate with the investigation”. Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP DECR, described the arrest of Fr Ephrem as an attack on Athonite monasticism in particular and on Orthodoxy in general. Previously, influential Russian politicians, the MP, the RF MID, as well as the Foundation of St Andrew the First-Called voiced support for Igumen Ephrem. This was in recognition of the fact that Abba Ephrem was part of the delegation from Vatopedi Monastery that brought the Belt of the Most Holy Mother of God to Russia for a stay lasting from 20 October to 28 November, going to various cities throughout the country, where nearly 3 million people venerated the relic, including top political leaders.

12 January 2012

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=43748

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