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The Holidays in Moscow

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In Russia, Christmas is celebrated on 7 January, according to the old calendar, the Orthodox calendar. Christmas is a purely religious Holy Day (from which our contraction 'holiday' is derived). Believers attend church services at the many Russian Orthodox churches which have been re-opened since the fall of Communism. There are sometimes concerts of Christmas music. We were fortunate to be able to attend a performance of the Red Army Band and Chorus on Christmas Eve (January 6, 2000). The Christmas half of the program was hymns and carols, Western and Orthodox. It was magnificent - gave me goose bumps and brought tears to my eyes.

Happy New Year MoscowThe big fun secular holiday when everyone gives gifts and eats and drinks too much is the New Year. On New Year's Eve, there are fireworks in every city park. Families bring their own roman candles, sparklers, and sky rockets. Kids are setting off fire crackers for a week before and after (our dog Hannah really hated that). This photo is of a billboard on the New Arbat. It reads "Happy New Year, Moscow!"

There are decorated "yolki" (fir trees, Christmas trees by any other name) in public spaces all over the city, and on tops of buildings, and tree shapes in lights on other buildings. Russians decorate their trees with lights and "igrushki" (toys - we call them Christmas ornaments).

Deyed Moroz (Grandfather Frost) and Snyegurochka (Snow Maiden - his grand-daughter) come to bring toys to all the children. Grandfather Frost wears a long red robe, trimmed with fur, high black boot,, has a long white beard, and carries a bag of gifts on his shoulder. Snow Maiden, in her fur trimmed mini-dress and high boots (she is usualy a Russian bomb-shell with gorgeous long legs) helps to distribute the presents. Because it is always cold at this time of year, Grandfather Frost is never averse to a little nip of vodka now and then, to keep out the cold. Consequently, from the chill and from the vodka, he is frequently portrayed with a very ruddy complexion.

table at bazarreThe International Women's Club has a fund-raising Bazarre every year just before the holidays. The embassy of each country takes a table, and women stationed in Moscow spend all year making things to sell or bringing in traditional items from their home countries. The "Canadian Women in Moscow" club, which met at the Embassy every month throughout the year, was responsible for stocking setting up, and staffing the Canadian table. During the years we were in Moscow, the highlights of the Canadian table were always: Maple syrup, home-made maple syrup fudge, and a raffle for a fully decorated Christmas Tree.

Photos of the holiday lights along the New Arbat

To view any photo at full size, click on the thumbnail. All photos are copyright Wayne and Patricia Primeau. All Rights Reserved.
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Lights on a high-rise on the New Arbat.

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Lights on the facade of a shopping centre on the New Arbat.

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Lights and window decorations on a department store.

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Lights and decorations along the New Arbat.

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Lights in the trees in from of a shopping centre on the New Arbat.

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Looking down the New Arbat from City Hall.

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Lights on a highrise on the New Arbat.

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Celebrating the holidays on the New Arbat.

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Tree at City Hall, the "White House" in the background.

Follow the link to see photos of New Year's Eve in Red Square."

Links to our Russia section

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Patti

This page was updated on 26 November 2007.

Contact me at: patti.primeau@sympatico.ca

This site was edited using Nvu and Style Master.

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