Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Russian Christmas

Because the Russian Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar, today was Russian Christmas.  With religion banned during the Soviet days, the Russkis did most of their celebrating and gift giving on New Year’s Eve, a tradition that didn’t change after the demise of the USSR.  Although today was a state holiday, the only differences I noticed were that museums were free and my Russian teacher was more generous with her compliments than usual (so basically, she gave me one backhanded compliment). 

The main upside to Russia’s delayed Christmas is a bigger window of time to catch The Nutcracker at the Bolshoi. As any real American (of my generation) knows, Christmas season isn’t complete until you’ve watched PBS’ version of The Nutcracker with Mikhail Baryshnikov dancing the eponymous role.

Baryshnikov before his Sex and the City days

It’s unlikely that this staple of my childhood graced Soviet televisions—Misha defected to the United States while touring with the Bolshoi Ballet Company in 1974. Luckily, my affinity for Baryshnikov in his tights-wearing prime didn’t prevent me from procuring a 100-rouble student ticket to a Sunday matinee.  Even though I had one of the worst seats in the house, a Russian girl tried to take my seat, practically sitting in my lap and then dropping her phone on my foot.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t the one who had erred, and she flounced off with her boyfriend to an even more remote corner of the theatre.

Prime nosebleed seating
Note the suicide fence (for Molly’s opera glasses)

Now that the Russian holidays are done, my flat is returning to normal. Dima is back from Kazakhstan and Liz is en route from Kansas, which means I can’t spend half the day in my yoga pants conversing with the cat anymore. Belka has taken to following me into the bathroom, and I think we need to re-establish firm boundaries before I am mistaken for an animal lover.  There is a slab of Kazakh cow carcass in our freezer that I will have to consume if the day comes that I start letting Belka sleep in my bed.


  1. Merry Russian Christmas!

    Good luck with getting back to normal life and with the... cow carcass...

  2. I am in bed at 2:05pm with two cats sleeping next to me. I am basically living your idea of despair. ;)

  3. I'm sad we missed each other in Budapest! Seems like you had a great time over the holidays though. Can't wait to hear what comes next!!!