Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Poll Shows More Orthodox Christian Believers in Russia

01j Orthodox people


A new survey by the independent Levada Centre showed that the proportion of Russians self-identifying as Orthodox Christians rose four-fold in the past 24 years. Today, two out of three Russians regard themselves as Orthodox Christians, compared to just one in six in 1989, in the last days of the USSR. The poll of 1,603 people found that 68 percent said that they were Orthodox Christian, up from 17 percent in 1989. The proportion identifying as Muslim also rose from about 1 percent in 1991 to 7 percent today. The number of Russian Catholics and Protestants remained roughly the same, at about 1 percent. About one in five Russians, or 19 percent, stated that they weren’t religious, compared to 75 percent in 1989, when atheism was the official state ideology, and 53 percent in 1991, after the Soviet collapse.

Most Orthodox believers aren’t regular church-attenders, with only 4 percent saying that they attended services once a week. Some 35 percent said that they never went to church, whilst 17 percent said that they went to services a few times a year. Some 62 percent of Orthodox Christians and Catholics also said that they never received Communion, down from 83 percent in 1991, whilst 8 percent said that they took part in the sacrament a few times a year. Levada ran the poll on 15-18 November 2013 in 130 cities, towns, and villages across 45 Russian federal subjects. The statistical margin of error was +/- 3.4 percent. After decades of repression and official disapproval, Orthodoxy gained greatly in influence in the past 20 years. Besides that, there’s been a major programme of church-building across the country to serve believers’ spiritual needs.

24 December 2013




24 December 2013. RIA-Novosti Infographics. The Main Russian New Year’s Tree in the Moscow Kremlin

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. The Main Russian New Year's Tree in the Moscow Kremlin. 2013


Loggers cut down the main Russian New Year’s Tree in a forest in Naro-Fominsk Raion in Moscow Oblast on Thursday 19 December. It’s a spruce tree, over 110-years-old. Soon, workers will load it onto a flat-bed trailer and deliver it on Saturday in Moscow, where workers will put it on Cathedral Square in the Kremlin. Strict standards exist for the selection of the Kremlin New Year’s Tree… it must have a smooth trunk, a pyramidal shape, feathery branches, and be at least 30 metres (99 feet) in height. The quality of the trees’s timber is important, for it must be able to withstand temperature fluctuations, and it must last for three weeks without deterioration. Foresters reject any trees with moss or lichen on the trunk, or if they discover that the tree’s hollow. Usually, the trees come from the edge of the forest, as it’s easier to take them out and ship them to the city. For several weeks, a special commission examined the forests surrounding Moscow to select a proper tree. They choose two or three main candidates, for two are backups, just in case the primary tree has an accident for one reason or another during the display period. The decorations are rather simple… it has large, medium, and small ornament balls in the colours of the Russian flag (red, white, and blue).

19 December 2013




24 December 2013. “When God Is Born, No Power Prevails” (Franciszek Karpiński)

00 Polish Wigilia. 25.12.12


When God is born, no power prevails,

Our Lord in nakedness enwound.

All fire congeals, all lustre pales,

Contained is He that knows no bound.


Despised, in glory comes untold,

A mortal king for aye to reign.

The Word of God in flesh behold,

Now born to share our life mundane.


What have ye Heavens o’er the earth,

That God forsook His sweet delight,

And wished to take a human birth,

To share our every toil and plight?


And He did suffer unconsoled,

And we were guilty of His pain.

The Word of God in flesh behold,

Now born to share our life mundane.


A meager shed for Him they found,

And in a manger there He lay.

What was He, and what was there ’round?

Poor shepherds, cattle, sheep and hay.


The poor had hailed Him, we are told,

Before the rich would entertain.

The Word of God in flesh behold,

Now born to share our life mundane.


’Twas then, they say, appeared the kings,

And jostled through the gathering dense.

For Him they brought their offerings:

The myrrh, and gold, and frankincense.


The frankincense, and myrrh, and gold

With rustic gifts He did retain.

The Word of God in flesh behold,

Now born to share our life mundane.


Raise now Thy hand, oh Child divine,

And bless our homeland from the Height.

By good advice and times benign,

Support her strength with Thine own might:


The hamlets, cities and the wold,

Our houses, and our every gain.

The Word of God in flesh behold,

Now born to share our life mundane.

Franciszek Karpiński

24 December 2013. “A Hymn on the Nativity of My Saviour” (Ben Jonson)

01 Christmas 2010 icon


I sing the birth was born tonight,

The Author both of life and light;

The angels so did sound it,

And like the ravished shepherds said,

Who saw the light, and were afraid,

Yet searched, and true they found it.


The Son of God, the eternal King,

That did us all salvation bring,

And freed the soul from danger;

He whom the whole world could not take,

The Word, which heaven and earth did make,

Was now laid in a manger.


The Father’s wisdom willed it so,

The Son’s obedience knew no “No,”

Both wills were in one stature;

And as that wisdom had decreed,

The Word was now made Flesh indeed,

And took on Him our nature.


What comfort by Him do we win?

Who made Himself the Prince of sin,

To make us heirs of glory?

To see this Babe, all innocence,

A Martyr born in our defence,

Can man forget this story?

Ben Jonson

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