Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Russian Christmas on January 7

The Russians celebrate Christmas on January 7, which is based on the old Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar that has Christmas on December 25. However, Christmas has only been openly celebrated in Russia since 1992; because
when the Communists took over, it was banned in the 1917 Revolution along with all other religious celebrations. Not being able to celebrate their Christmas traditions, the Russians turned to New Year's for their celebrations. They decorated New Year's trees in place of the banned Christmas trees, and St. Nicholas was replaced with Ded Moroz or Grandfather Frost in a blue suit who represented the Russian Spirit of Winter and brought gifts on New Year's. He was accompanied by Snyegurochka, the Snowmaiden, who helped distribute the gifts. Many Russians celebrate Christmas on both December 25 and January 7, especially members of our Church; but New Year's is a bigger event than Christmas for most Russians.

We went to the office today, but the Service Center was very quiet with none of the employees there. In fact, vacations begin on December 25 and continue for many until next Monday, January 12; but they have to work on Sunday, January 11, to make up for being off on Friday. Of course, no one will be working at the Service Center on Sunday; but to accommodate those who have to work on Sunday in other jobs, our branch will have sacrament meeting at 7:00 p.m. this Sunday.

We flew to Rostov in southwestern Russia near the Black Sea on Monday, January 2, to train a new humanitarian couple, Elder & Sister Howard, from St. George, Utah. It was not quite two hours of flying time, so we left our apartment at 6:00 a.m. and had most of the day for training. The following morning after breakfast, we walked for an hour in the city doing a little sightseeing and then flew back to Moscow in time for a special Family Home Evening at the Shepards.

David & Cindy Howard
Humanitarian Missionaries in Rostov

On a walking tour in Rostov with the Howards.

Rubbing the nose of the bronze cat
is supposed to bring good luck,
and Elder Howard tries it out. In the metro
in Moscow people have rubbed all the brown
bronze off the nose of a dog statue.

Nativity Cathedral
(Sam & Narene)
In every city the cathedrals are a major attraction.

A large renok near the Howards' apartment.

Municipal duma in Rostov.

Not everyone lives in an apartment building
in Rostov. I took this photo from the car
on the way to the airport.

Photo taken in Rostov on the way to the airport.

George & Beryl Curbishley were guests of honor at FHE. They are finishing their third mission in Russia; and after traveling to do some training with district leaders, they will be going home the first week in February. Chris had prepared chili and dessert, and the couples brought the rest of the meal. After eating and special thoughts and testimony shared by the Curbishleys, the group bagged candy for treats to give out for a service project at an institution for disabled elderly ladies. We will deliver these on Friday morning where we also will sing some songs to hopefully brighten their day.

Sam & Greg lugging candy-filled gypsy bags
from the renok to the Shepards' apartment
where the senior couples put it in gift bags
to take to the center for disabled elderly.

Assembly line bagging candy in gift bags
for the service project the senior couples
are doing Friday, January 9.

Kathy Gregory & Steve Rees
Tying ribbon around bags of candy.

Ready to eat chili before bagging the candy.
(Chris, Linda Rees, Linda Nearon, and Renee)

We are going to miss George & Beryl
when they go home in February,
but we will remember George's stories
and Beryl's cookies and pies. Theirs is a
loving companionship and they are fun to know.
We look forward to a reunion.

Moscow West Mission
Photo taken on December 25, our Christmas day.
President & Sister Collins are front and center.
Elder & Sister Ireland are
at the right, front row.

1 comment:

Mike and Maradel said...

We are thrilled there is a new couple in Rostov. It has been awhile. And they look wonderful as do the both of you. Your blog is wonderful. If you were closer I would get you to give e lessons. We miss you and value your friendship.