The abnormally low temperatures in Moscow have brought spectacularly bright sunsets. The red glow against the frozen sky amazes and terrifies the viewer.
Like I wrote a few years ago, the terror that industrial architecture can instill in its observer fades in contrast to the elements. The sunset remains beautiful no matter the environment. And this may force one to consider the power the Nature has over the mundane world. It can make the most horrible circumstances bearable, and the rest will depend on the person, whether he or she finds inspiration to change the circumstances – or finds consolation and changes nothing.
Incidentally, these two photos were taken with a 25-minute difference, and just see how different they are.
I’ve chosen the religious name for Russian Christmas this year. Indeed, I wanted to stress the religious aspect of this holiday in Russia. So many people visit churches on January 6th and 7th, post themed cards and images on social networks, exchange them in messengers! There are lots of themed events, and of course, there’re many wonderful dishes cooked and eaten today in the most religious households because on the 7th the 40-day long St Philip’s, or Nativity, Lent ends.
After my friend and I have undertaken the labour of love with the Christmas Calendar I now realize how Christian our world is. It remains Christian despite endless attempts to rid it of any hint at religious faith, of veneration, adoration, and all-encompassing Love. I was gradually turning to Orthodox Faith since 2014, but it wasn’t until 2018 that I saw the proof of God’s watching over us, supporting and helping us. And after I saw that I know today that He loves us in any state of mind and body, as per the parable of the prodigal son. He knows our hearts like we rarely do, and He is happy to give us the best He has for us. Alas, we are so entrenched in vanity and pride that we want to be the god of our own life and so we demand Him to give us what we’ve made up for ourselves. And when He doesn’t, we get offended.
This is the quest some parts of the world are currently going through. People there have convinced themselves and are trying to convince others that God’s will is void, and that everyone is free to choose everything, including a gender. The fact is that humankind knows no other way of reproducing itself except by marrying a Man and a Woman. There may be other ways but they are not human, all in all.
So, on the day of Russian Orthodox Nativity let us turn our hearts and minds to the beautiful story of God the Father materializing miraculously in this life via a Maiden. I read the akathist to the Nativity of Jesus Christ today and I was moved a few times quite potently. It is a great joy that Our Saviour was born; and in spring, at Easter, He will be born again – into Eternal Life. Each time our world is born and resurrects with Him.
It’s been -27 in Moscow all day on January 6th. On a day like this one wants to stay home and to watch the life going by…
As I’m writing this, there are some fireworks outside. I went out shortly, got myself the daily planner I wanted, bought some coffee, took a couple of photos, and came home.
The eve of Nativity is always a long, homely night. We are expecting the Light to shine upon us amidst the snow and freezing temperatures.
In the last few years, after I joined the Russian Orthodox Church, I realized how much I miss the spirit of preparing for this holiday. Nativity and the preceding fasting period is the time of introspection and at the same time of preparing to something miraculous. The miracle of Life, the miracle of Light, the miracle of Love. This is what Nativity is all about.
And I really regret that, as a child, I wasn’t brought up in this tradition of expecting the solemn eve of Nativity holiday. Of singing the Russian carols, or cooking the special sochivo dish and the Christmas meal, or reading the prayers and lighting the candles.
On another note, the ceasefires has been proclaimed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So we also pray that those religious and faithful people to choose to visit the Russian Orthodox Churches in the war zone will remain alive, safe and sound. Likewise, we pray that those Russian Orthodox people who visit their places of worship in other countries tonight will be protected and remain safe and sound.
Minus 27 is forecast in Moscow this weekend. This doesn’t sound particularly exciting, and I’m bracing myself and my dogs. But… it’s good and wholesome. Frost is a check on our ability to accept our limitations and fears.
After January 1st Russians begin to prepare to the holiday of Nativity of Jesus Christ. It is interesting to observe the difference in traditions and approaches to the celebration of the turn of the year.
In the West, Christmas comes first, then New Year, and then the work begins. The year ends with a big festival, and then the bleak midwinter settles in.
In Russia, New Year opens a week-long family holiday. It is followed by Russian Orthodox Christmas. Some very religious families shun the New Year feast because they are fasting and celebrate the Nativity instead. But either way, in Russia we begin the year with a festival and a feast, and I believe it sets the tone.
My January 2nd was also calm and silent, although by the evening I collected myself to write in which fields I want to carry my work in 2023. I updated the Christmas Calendar and slept a lot.
My 1st of January was very silent, sleepy, calm – feline, in a word.
Turns out, I celebrated the previous year of Rabbit/Cat on my blog, there’s even a special category. And 12 years later Rabbit-Cat is visiting us again.
My 1st of January was very silent, sleepy, calm – feline, in a word. Later in the evening I wrote down all events in the past 4 months of 2022, got duly impressed with myself, and began to wind down for the night.
I realised that I treasure the quietude of the first day of the year and wouldn’t want to forsake it for anything. Here’s something to take into account for when I get to planning my 2023.
Weather-wise, it was raining, and the thermometer showed 0/+2 in Moscow. Not really a January kind of weather. We’re told, however, that the temperature is about to fall well below zero in a few days.
So, to attract the snowfall to our borders, here’s a lovely, cozy GIF image.
My 2023 was anything but uneventful. We celebrated the 25th anniversary of finishing school and the 20th anniversary of graduating from the Moscow State University. It was also the 25th anniversary of my first print publication in a newspaper for the grown-ups.
I took part in many events, including conferences, networkings, public poetry recitals. I took several excursions to my favourite Moscow district, and I rode in a cable car!
I made many new friends and I haven’t lost any – the consequence of living the life on my terms and not conceding on my values because this or that person seems important. I am important, full stop.
I published my long story, a collection of sonnets, and a new edition of my English-language poetry collection.
And I had a plenty of walks, launched my own educational community, and started a Christmas Calendar on subscription.
I’m grateful to 2022 for putting many things right and forcing us to see the forest for the trees and to separate the wheat from the chaff. Russia has become bigger, and we as a nation have become stronger and more united.
I hope we all take lessons from 2022 and ensure that we navigate through 2023 with more confidence and faith.
Here’s to the New Year! S Novym Godom!
As per this blog’s tradition, some Soviet postcards.
The Christmas tree decorations stir imagination and produce the spell-binding effect on children and adults alike. In my childhood we used to set the tree on the last day of December. In fact, everything was happening on December 31st: cooking, cleaning, taking a shower, decorating, eating, naturally. At my age I can hardly believe I could do the same kind of marathon now. So I prefer to do my shopping and decorating before December 30th.
I’m still bouncing after yesterday, and I’m excited about the new developments. I had 3 classes today, and I’m all but ready for the new year 2023. I haven’t decorated the room yet, which I’m going to do, of course. But I’ve got something magical instead that you see below.
I spent today at the ArtPlay creative quarter in Moscow. I had a fantastic photo session in a studio with a photographer. ArtPlay itself is a fantastic place and I hope to have more time to explore it. A brief acquaintance has shown that it’s located in the premises of a former factory and is packed with all sorts of shops, studios, boutiques, and cafés.
This part of town is virtually unknown to me. I followed the YouTube video showing the way to the studio, and on my way I passed the 19th century buildings that could previously house residences but are now usually home to civil service offices. Alas, it was also quite slippery, so I had to take extra care going there and back.
Going to ArtPlay was like visiting Manchester to me. Made of red brick and located close to the railway station, with its plethora of various studios and outlets, it was like an open-air Affleck’s Palace, and all murals and witty inscriptions reminded me of the Northern Quarter. Throw all the Christmassy lights in – and the déjà-vu feeling was almost palpable. More still, the folk who worked there were like the good old Mancunians, complete with green or pink coloured hair, tattoos and piercings, odd clothes and accessories, and the obvious struggle to make ends meet.
I watched it all from both sides: as a person who once belonged to this kind of place and life (except hair dyes, tattoos and piercing) and who now felt transported back into this old experience; and as a person who no longer belonged there, and probably never did, but who had once made an honest effort to live there.
Suddenly ArtPlay came to mean much more than just a clever name…