We can’t believe that the holidays have come and gone. We are at the half-way point in our mission and the time continues to fly by. The missionaries and the members are working very hard to get this area (Novosibirsk Mission) into a position that a stake can be formed. It would be the 3rd in Russia and the first in Siberia. Our hope is that the new stake will be formed in 2013.
The holiday season is very interesting. December 25th comes and goes with hardly any mention of christmas. But the big holiday, in fact the big holiday of the whole year is New Years Day. Families put up and decorate "New Years trees" with lights and ornaments almost exactly as we do our christmas trees. Gifts are exchanged on New Years day and there is even a kindly old man with a long white beard that brings gifts on New Year’s Day to the good little boys and girls. He is tall and slender and he wears a cap and a flowing robe trimmed in white fur. The robe almost reaches the ground and it is more often blue than red. And he bears the name of “Ded Moroz.” Quite literally it means “Grandfather Frost.” And he is helped by his granddaughter “Snegaruchka” or “Snow Maiden.” He rides in a sleigh that is drawn by 3 white horses. And the little children look forward to his arrival on New Year’s eve with as much excitement and wonder as the little children in America look forward to Santa Claus. The wearing of costumes by the children has also become part of the tradition. Karen and I attended a performance of “The Nutcracker” ballet last week here in the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theater with the missionaries. (They are allowed a "cultural night" about every six weeks.) Just before the ballet they did a little program out in the foyer for the children with Ded Morz and some other characters. Also outside the theater on the plaza were some ice sculptures. That night after the performance there were at least a thousand people milling around. There were horses to ride, an actual reindeer pulling a sleigh, fireworks, food, and all kinds of street vendors. All this in sub zero weather. The weather doesn’t stop these hardy folks.
Christmas is celebrated here now but it is a purely religious holiday, celebrating the birth of the savior and it is celebrated on Jan. 7th which I am told is the equivalent of Dec. 25th on the Gregorian calendar. The Russian Orthodox church uses the Julian calendar which makes it Jan. 7th. it is actually quite nice that the birth of the savior is celebrated on its own without some of the other distractions.
Anyway it is an exciting time around here.
We are so blessed to be here doing the Lord’s work. We love the people. The members in our branch are becoming like family. But we truly miss you all and wish you the best of everything in this coming year.
|Young Single Adults and Missionaries caroling in Downtown Krasnoyarsk|
|For a small fee your child can ride in a sleigh pulled by an actual reindeer.|
|A slide for the kids made entirely of ice. (It may not melt until May!)|
|Some of the holiday lighting in downtown Krasnoyarsk|
|Street vendors selling New Year's holiday items|
|More lighting. This lighting is place over a fountain for the winter. In the summer months it is a beautiful water fountain.|
|Some of the ice sculptures at night.|
|There are not too many baby strollers out in the winter, but you see a lot of these.|
|This was a performance for the kids out in the foyer of the theater just prior to the start of the ballet.|
|Notice the little kids in their "New Year's" costumes.|
|The performance builds up to the entrance of the final character, Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost).|
|Inside the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theater.|