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That's Ms. Grinch, to you

I got woken up at a ludicrous hour this morning by an ill-tempered postman, who delievered a huge wad of mail into my sleepy hands. However, upon discovering that it contained my Ebay shoes, as well as cards from hoshuteki, grazia, mooism and birdie1986, I forgave him for the rude awakening on my day off.

To the cardsenders: thank ye very muchly! You have made me smile and brightened my bleary morning considerably.

On that note, I tend to send New Year cards, and if you would like one please fill out the poll below. Many thanks.

Would you like me to send you a New Year card?

Yes please
12(100.0%)
No, thanks
0(0.0%)

If you answered yes, then please type your address below and I will



I am much more festively cheerful than I was a couple of weeks ago, thanks in no small measure to miss_newham's fabulous tree. However, passing garish Christmas lights still makes me wince or shudder delicately, I'm now getting to a tooth-grinding stage due to the incessant carols and the Christmas crowds in town are grating on whatever nerves survive dealing with small children and bureacrats.

offensive_mango has made some good points about Christmas lights (so good they published her commentary no less!) but OTT lighted displays fail to cheer me and are more likely to send me into a wrathful commentary about wastage of energy resources, and it would be better if people donated the money they'd spend on their electricity bill to the charity instead.

And although I think Christmas telly and having a few days off work to eat and do not much else is an absolutely magnificent idea, Western Christmases are still not something I'm used to.

For starters, we never used to celebrate Christmas when I was a child. This was because religion was banned under communism, and to a lesser extent under socialism, and my parents were atheist so there were no religious holidays. Instead, we celebrated New Year, where everyone ate a lot, and my father song, and the dog barked and tried to pull down the tinsel off the tree, and a rotund person called Grandfather Frost paid housecalls and brought us presents.

Christmas in the 80s Yugoslavia existed only in a very underground way. There was a small Russian Church my grandmother took me to, but frankly as much as I loved the Church (all that dark wood, and burning frankincence, and huge suspended chandeliers made of many coloured glass, and the huge tree - it was all very splendid to me) Christmas there was an underwhelming experience. We'd stand and listen to the hymns, and the sermon, holding lit candles (which would drip wax all over our hands), and then we children would step forward and recite poetry in Russian (I can still remember a few verses), and afterwards we'd hold hands and go in circles around the Christmas tree singing Russian carols (Hristaslava... Hristaslava...) while the lead child carried a star on a stick. And then afterwards we'd all get presents, and a white bearded priest would bless us and give us the hard tasteless bready thing to eat.

I actually remember those evenings with fondness, it was fun to hold hands and sing and dance with the other children, but Christmas was a religous holiday, and as such it was meant to be serious rather than frivolous fun.

Nowadays, Christmas in Yug is a very big deal again. It is not the biggest Orthodox holiday (that would be Easter) but the old traditions Communism had tried to surpress are coming back. Most of the ceremonies take place on Christmas Eve, and it is absolutely nothing like the Christmas here (other than its a time people spend with their families, and there's a tree to be decorated). There are no fairy lights, or lit up decorations, or carols on the radio, nor a whole rush for present buying (even though the people selling icons, and Christmas bouqets of oak branches and hay will be doing a roaring trade). People will still be fasting (as they've done for 40 days prior to Christmas), and they won't be allowed to eat dairy, or eggs, or meat (aside from fish) until Christmas day itself. So, the typical night-before-Christmas meal will consist of baked shredded sour cabbage, fish, and beans. You'll have someone come to the door bearing a badnjak (aforementioned Christmas bouqet, usually made of oak branches and hay) and singing carols. Someone will throw walnuts into the four corners of the room (for the father, the son, the holy ghost and the unexpected guest), and then everyone will tuck into fish and beans, and the next day a person would take the badnjak and go to a friend's house and burn it there, and while they're burning it visualise and recite good wishes for the family for the year (it's all rather pagan, and hence I like it).

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
birdie1986
Dec. 21st, 2004 05:20 pm (UTC)
took me ages to work out why i couldn't reply to your poll, then i realised i wasn't logged in!!!

sorry you were rudely awoken this am - damn postmen


western christmases are very commercialised, it's a shame without that they could be something very special but they are al about the presents now as oppsed to the mening (and not even just a religious meaning as i'm not religious) but the idea of being together as a family and sharing with one another

the typical night-before-Christmas meal will consist of baked shredded sour cabbage, fish, and beans.
mmmmm tasty - that must make the place smell wonderful. - i think i might stick to my turkey (sorry am not much of a cabbage fan)

take care
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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