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Santa Blue

...and so, another Christmas Eve descends upon us. For those of you unaware, being Jewish, I don't actually celebrate Christmas. Coming from a secular Jewish family, I don't actually celebrate Hanukkah, either. Growing up, we occasionally paid lip service to any number of Jewish traditions, but I don't think we ever made it past the third or fourth candle. What we celebrate is New Year's Eve.

Christmas, in the Soviet Union, was replaced by the New Year's Eve (Новый Год, lit.: “New Year”) celebration. The (secular) tradition is almost identical: we decorate a tree (Yolka/Ёлка,) eat a hearty meal, gifts are exchanged, and so on. After coming of age, we also get really wrecked. New Year's Eve is not just a holiday, but also the biggest party of the year. I remember digging through old family pictures and finding a few from a NYE party wherein my mother was roughly my age. She, my father, and some of their friends are sitting on a floor, my father playing his guitar. Everyone is absolutely shitfaced. My friends and I are the inheritors of this tradition and, well, let's just say that making plans for January 1st is practically unheard of.

Okay, I mentioned presents. Well, we Soviets did not have Saint Nicholas. Communism did not look fondly upon the opium of the masses (although not even Stalin himself could neither put down the Church, nor Judaism) but considering the depressive qualities of the Soviet winter, something had to be done. So instead of Saint Nick, we have Ded Moroz (Дед Мороз) - “Grandfather Frost.” Tagging along is his beautiful young daughter Snegurochka (Снегурочка) - “The Snow Maiden.” What surprises a lot of my American-born friends is Grandfather Frost's color palette; unlike in the states he comes in both red and blue varieties, both equally acceptable.

Image co. Voices from Russia.

So, that's how we do. I did mention gifts, though, and here is one for you all. It is David Sedaris' classic story of Christmas-based openmindedness, Six To Eight Black Men. (NB: The video portion isn't particularly relevant, so I'm leaving the windows tiny for ease of browsing.)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. heh, Grandfather Frost sounds cool. I don’t really celebrate the holidays at all myself. I have long despised Christmas. I am also Jewish and while I like to sometimes believe, the truth is I would be considered a Secular Jew by most peers. After a brief stint as a young child I pretty much stopped looking at Chanukah as something really worth caring about. These days the fact that its quite obvious the holiday has been elevated to ridiculous heights within our national perception as a means for consumer culture to co-opt it sort of makes it downright unappealing. Its not even a major holiday (and in truth Purim is much more fun).

    I suppose I’d enjoy New Years Eve if it weren’t for the fact that it compete with my birthday. Oy.

  2. The purple, brown, and red plush panel-looking squares in the corner, and the apparent rising elevation of people going back, combined with Mr. Frost’s grasping of the microphone makes it look like he is on the set of a daytime talk show. The lady beside him is host of the hour, making sure to look interested without letting loose an opinion. I can’t know what the old bearded fellow is saying, but I reckon it relates to somebody on the stage thinking they all that but not, in fact, being all that. The man off to the left is there to tackle people in case a fight breaks out.

  3. The moment I saw that photo of Ded Moroz and Snegurochka I felt Iam looking through the eyes of the small girl,which I was 20 years ago!My nationality and religion is not of importance here,I am a slavonic and also grew up with this mix of slavonic myths and komunism.The point is that we still believe and want to believe in,that bring us joy,happiness,faith in the good will.Because all thiese Santa Claus, all the candles of Hannukah,Snegurochka,all the dwarfs,all the candles of the Christmas…they are our will to survive and to share with the others our love and support.Life is beautiful,if we make it beautiful,right!

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