С Рождеством и С Новым Годом!!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (a bit a little late)
So naturally I’m about a week late with this (okay okay the last post was only 2 months late, forgive me) but I figured that you would all like to know how my holidays were spent here in Russia.
So we shall start by saying that Christmas doesn’t exist in Russia (well it does, in fact its January 7th, so tomorrow or today depending on when I post this) because they are Orthodox not Catholic so to them December 25th is just another day on the calendar where they have to go to school, work, and continue to prepare for New Years. Knowing that Christmas is a big holiday in most other countries AFS decided to try to have a “Christmas celebration” for us AFS students. The mere fact that it was on December 22 – December 24 it failed slightly in getting us in the “Christmas spirit” but it was still nice of them to try to celebrate for us.
So on December 22 we left for Yaroslavl where the event was being held and when we got there we were told that we were going to be staying in host families, which was nice, but honestly after all the problems that I had with families I was and am tired of getting to know new families. My family that I stayed with there was very nice but we didn’t really do much because I was only going to be there for 2 nights.
Russia has yet to figure out that the country that they live in is well… COLD… they still seem to think that it is a good idea to plan out door activities when it is about 0 degrees outside. When we say that its cold they always respond with “well it's Russia” in my head all I think is “well thank you for informing me where I am but its still COLD, if you’re cold and you’re Russian then obviously WE are cold! Give us a break and don’t plan 7 hour outdoor activities in December” but outwardly I just smiling and say “yes I know, but its COLD” All in all the outing was fun, we went sledding then played some games outside on teams, our team came in second but I must admit it was done mostly without me, me and Jenia hid inside for some of the games (we found coffee).
The next day was mostly for the AFSers to hang out which we did, we also had to watch a performance that the school put on for us. Oddly enough their choice for a Christmas play was “the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hallow” … we didn’t understand either. We then had a small feast with cake and fruit before we all went to the center to walk around before we went home.
When I got home (on Christmas Eve) my host family had a whole feast prepared for me! It was so nice of them! They had baked me chicken, real salad, and a cake. They kept asking if they had done it right! It was soo sweet of them, I mean I had only been living with them for about 5 days at that point and so it was just really really nice of them. They gave me a small Christmas gift and then I went to bed, still not quite believing that the next day was Christmas.
So my actual Christmas was very uneventful. I went to an art museum with Katia’s (my host sister) class in the morning. While I would like to be able to say that “I learned a lot and I really enjoyed the museum” I unfortunately cant say that. I’m learning that I’m really just not one for art museums and all I could think was “its Christmas, why am I here?” After that we went home and I met my host dad for the first time since I had been in the house. He works one week on and one week off (as far as I understood when they told me) but I still don’t know what he does exactly. Then Katia & I went ice-skating. Russians really enjoy holding hands while they ice-skate which to me, holding hands with someone who hasn’t ice skated in over 2 years and wasn’t that great to begin with (me), is not a very good idea but alas they really love to hold hands! They also don’t really understand that you can't go from “bad” to “90 mph” in less then one hour! But I’m proud of myself I only fell once and it created a bruise the size of Rhode Island on the side of my right knee but it was still worth it! After that I skyped with my whole family back in the States which was pretty sad, I missed them A LOT, Christmas is a hard time to be away from family. That drew an end to the strangest Christmas of my life!
On to New Years! Which to Russians seems to be Thanksgiving, Christmas, and something REALLY amazing all rolled in to one. Everyone started talking about New Years about 2 weeks in to December. Although now that I think about it, in the States, we start thinking about Christmas in November so maybe it’s not that weird after all. And everyone kept telling me how amazing New Year's was going to be. So the day before New Year's myhost sister & I helped my host mom and grandma get food ready for New Year's, they seemed to be preparing a FEAST (which they were!).
So on December 31st we all woke up late (as usual) and pretty much just lounged until about 5ish pm and that’s when we all started getting ready. Well to be more accurate with that I noticed that they were all getting ready, doing makeup, putting on nice cloths, so I figured that that’s what I should be doing too. No one had told me but I didn’t want to be the only one in pajamas! I mean they even put my little host brother in a SUIT! So we all got dressed up and around 8 some guests came over, friends of my host family and their little daughter who is the same age as my host brother. We all hung out until about 10 pm which is when we started to eat. Yes we STARTED to eat at about 10 pm. My family got very distressed when they realized that I wouldn’t eat most of the food on the table because 90% of it contained mayo, which is one food that I cannot stand! I still managed to fill my stomach much more then I should have yet my бабушка (grandma) was still worried that I’m not eating enough (which is a daily worry of hers)
At almost midnight we turned on the TV and we watched Russia bring in the New Year in Moscow. The president of Russia, Mendeleev, spoke for about 5 minutes and then they counted in the New Year. Then I saw one of the funniest things. I watched the president, and former president (Putin) dance! Together! On! Live! TV! I thought it was amusing. Well Russians have the same champagne and kissing tradition as the USA. We all had champagne and kissed each other’s cheeks at midnight and shouted “С НОВЫМ ГОДОМ!!!!” and that’s when the fireworks started! All over the city you could hear fire works going off and the distant lights in the sky. (and for future reference, its January 6 and people are still setting off fireworks and saying Happy New Years on the street)
Me and my family sat around, talked, danced, sang and hung out with our guests until about 3 am which is when the party started to die down and everyone went home and we went to bed.