Voices from Russia

Saturday, 29 April 2017

29 April 2017. Is Your Parish Still Celebrating? It Should Be…

00 russia dancers krasnogorsk raion moscow oblast 290417


The above image is of the Красная горка (Krasnaya Gorka: Red Hill) celebration in Dmitrov (Krasnogorsk Raion, Moscow Oblast). Where better to celebrate “Red Hill” than in “Red Hill” Raion? Red Hill is the popular name for Thomas Sunday and for the following week. Obviously, it’s a “baptism” of pre-Christian pagan festivities marking the beginning of spring, people hold dances and fairs, organise bonfires and celebrations, and often hold marriages at this time (it’s thought particularly auspicious). People make another round of Easter Eggs and Cakes and keep the party spirit alive. By the way… the Igumen of the local Monastery of St Dmitri Salunsky blessed this festival…

It’s party hearty until Pentecost… keep it alive until then…



Thursday, 24 December 2015

24 December 2015. As Seen by Vitaly Podvitsky… To the Nativity of Christ!

00 Vitaly Podvitsky. To the Nativity of Christ! 2015

To the Nativity of Christ!

Vitaly Podvitsky



Christmas! The day marking the birth of Jesus Christ is one of the main Christian holidays. Today, 25 December, is the Western celebration of Christmas. Today, millions of Christians around the world celebrate this holiday, but most Orthodox Churches (including the Patriarchate of Moscow and all the Russias) celebrate Christmas thirteen days later (7 January), as they use the Julian Calendar to calculate fixed feasts. This difference in dates doesn’t change anything essential in the meaning of Christmas, as we don’t know the exact date of the mystery of the birth of Christ. The tradition to celebrate Christmas on 7 January (Julian calendar) or 25 December (Gregorian) goes back to the holiday in honour of the pagan god Saturn, held in late December in the Roman Empire. Saturnalia was a precursor of modern Christmas and New Year, rolled up in one. With time, paganism died out, so, the Church decided to “baptise” Saturnalia, by replacing it with a feast marking the birth of Jesus Christ.  These days, Christmas is a joyous holiday… one of the most beautiful Christian feasts. Over the centuries, many traditions grew up around this celebration… the traditional holiday tree, the “cave” (Nativity scene), worship, and special foods. Every country added its own local usages to the generally accepted forms, making it a kaleidoscopic celebration of national folkways and identity.

Let the newborn baby Christ bring us all peace, joy, and love!

24 December 2015

Masterskaya Karikatura



All Christians celebrate the Nativity on 25 December, but the Julian Calendar used by most Orthodox is 13 days behind the Gregorian (in the 20th/21st centuries). In the 22nd century, the difference will lengthen to 14 days.


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

22 December 2015. Christmas DOES Have Pagan Links…

00 new year 15. rome italy. 04.01.14


Christmas DOES have pagan links… 17-23 December was the ancient festival of Saturnalia. Ergo… Christmas happened under the cover of the toing and froing of that holiday (people travelling, visiting family, buying gifts and special foods, etc). It had a distinct date, but well within the ambit of the holiday. in short, the early Christians used the hubbub around the Saturnalia to keep their holiday under wraps. There are aspects of the Saturnalia in our Christian holiday celebrations such as public banquets, private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere, so, in my view, the attempts of some commentators to “debunk” pagan links to Christmas backfire. Besides which, Christmas is a season where the better-off often “serve” the poorer amongst us… in the Saturnalia, masters would often “serve” their slaves. In short, there are more links than some are comfortable with. As for me, I believe that the “baptism” of these pagan customs wasn’t only innocent, it was beneficial and positively good. Our pagan ancestors weren’t evil… they were merely unchristian. Their good customs, intentions, folkways, and mores DESERVED “baptism” and I’m glad that the Church was wise enough to do that.

 Pagan links to Christmas? YES! It would’ve been strange otherwise, no?


Monday, 12 November 2012

12 November 2012. Our Great Russian Motherland… The Night of Ivan Kupala on Lake Svetloyar


On the night of Ivan Kupala in the Russian village of Vladimir (Voskresensky Raion. Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. Volga Federal District), people hold candles and walk around the local lake. According to old peasant lore, if you walk around Lake Svetloyar three times, then, your wish would come true.


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