The Orthodox Christmas Eve is called “sochelnik” after a special meal cooked on this day. In Orthodox tradition, Christmas Day ends the so-called Christmas Lent that lasts from the end of November until January 7th. This Lent, similarly to the Assumption Lent in August, has fixed dates, as opposed to the Great Lent in spring and St. Peter’s Lent in June.
According to tradition, the faithful are not allowed to eat any food on Christmas Eve, except for “sochivo” – a mix of cooked wheat and honey, sometimes with the added dried fruits. I must admit I’ve never cooked it yet, and in fact, the last week of Lent was difficult to fast because my body demanded that I enjoyed the festive time.
The faithful have been asked not to visit the churches this year, and the service at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour can be attended only by special invitation. I suppose one may express their surprise, if not anger, with these facts. So, let’s remember that Jesus was also born outside the city and laid with the animals. We are in the same cradle this year, as Jesus, so let us focus on the essence of this holiday. A Child is born in cold and poverty to become the King. So we in our homes and in different state of being welcome the Light of the World to change our lives for the better.
The magical time of the year has arrived, and finally, after two very English (=mild, rainy) winters we’re having a proper Russian one, with snow and temperatures below zero. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby Jingle Bells suit the weather perfectly, even though I cannot yet put my feet up and rest. Instead, may I remind you about the Xmas labels on this blog, which you might want to flick through:
Xmas 2020 is going to tell about the holidays as they are being celebrated in Moscow this year. To put it officially, they are not being celebrated due to pandemics; instead, each of us is getting into festive mood by himself. This looks almost like what two great artists were doing in this video. So, let Xmas 2020 begin with Sinatra and Crosby Jingle Bells!
I am very glad to announce a publication of a collection of original fairy tales, inspired by the world folklore, The Hammock for the Falling Stars. The project is at the finishing stage where the authors and all those who are interested are collecting the money to publish the book before Christmas. 17 female authors wrote over 30 tales that take the reader to all the four corners of the world. This hardback edition contains over 100 pages, it is lavishly illustrated and will surely make a superb gift for a Russian-reading child. I have already translated my tale, inspired by Welsh folklore, into English and will look to publish it separately. In the meantime, you can look at the beautiful illustrations to this wonderful, superb edition. If you know of someone who may be interested in this book, please feel free to share the post with them.
The Hammock for the Falling Stars can be purchased via this link: https://www.tinkoff.ru/sl/AxyL1HgRWHH. Please write your name and a social network name or email to be contacted for the book to be posted.
The new year is just around the corner, and I’m pleased to announce the availability of 2021 photographic calendars I’ve prepared for you.
We’re starting with my photographic calendars available on Zazzle.com. One of them is dedicated to Wales and features my photos made there between 2009 and 2013. The photos were taken in North, Middle and South Wales, particularly in Caernarfon, Llandudno, Denbighshire. Exact places include Valle Crucis Abbey, Horseshoe Path, and a few others.
Another calendar consists of my London photos. The landmarks include a church in Aldgate, St. Pancras Railway Station, the church of St. Clements Danes, a few Bloomsbury and Soho streets. This is London you rarely see on postcards. While the Welsh 2021 photographic calendar is ideal for those who love the countryside, London 2021 photographic calendar will best suit those who like the subdued city vibe.
There’s a chance that Moscow people will enjoy some proper winter weather soon. The first sign is the snow which is well overdue but is nonetheless welcome. I may try to be funny and say that Britain with the Brexit has waved goodbye to Europe and various European organisations, like PAEC, by sending a heatwave that saw the warmest December and January in all Russian history. But no, things are getting back to normal here, while we’re yet to see what lies ahead for Great Britain.
Over the years I’ve waved goodbye to a few habits that I now wish I hadn’t lost. I cannot say the loss causes too much pain; however, it’d be better if I could regain the skills and renew the routines. So, as I’m sharing my trouble with you, will you please also let me know if you ever had a similar problem and what you did.
I became very wary about heels after I’d hurt my ankle in 2008. Then in 2010 I worked in direct sales, we had to walk fast, so high-heels were not fit for purpose. I resumed wearing heels between late 2010 and 2013, but then I changed jobs. I started teaching, and in all four years of my working for a local community centre I had to walk and run once again, and flat footwear was best. I do love high-heels, and I’d love to get back into habit of wearing them regularly, but I’ve also got used to moving fast or philandering lazily, and 8cm heels are just not good for that.
2.Keeping abreast of all things social
Can you believe I used to be an SMM manager for nearly 4 years? Or that I used to run a very socmed friendly blog and, generally, was very active on many social channels? Some of them, like Klout, have since stopped existing; I still have accounts with others, but I’m not quite active there at all. I’m getting reaccustomed to the pleasure of sharing things on Reddit, Pinterest and Facebook, as much as reading up on SocMed trends. However, as my interests have firmly shifted to my own literary endeavours and teaching, every bit of new industry info feels like a huge information overload. I feel, though, that this is one of the most valuable habits I wish I had not lost.
3.Travelling far and wide
Whatever happened to those itchy feet? Admittedly, I needed some rest from my peregrinations. On the other hand, it now feels like an act of heroism to get myself out of the house and out and about. The main reason for my being sort of tied down is time: I can only go on day trips, and Russia is not England. There you can travel from Manchester to Edinburgh in 3 hours, and Scotland is almost like a different country (or so it may become after Brexit). Here in Russia you can only travel to smaller cities and towns, like Kaluga, Yaroslavl, Podolsk, Ivanovo and Tver, and, regardless of certain differences, it’s the same Central Russia as most people know it. It will take you 5 hours to get to St. Petersburg by train, and if you wish to travel to Kazan, Novgorod, Arkhangelsk, Yekaterinburg or Vladivostok, it’ll take you even more. I read and view travelogs, but it’s not the same as going somewhere.
4.Cooking at home
This is a difficult one. Living in Russia was not good for my kitchen abilities because my mother is a great cook. A small kitchen space didn’t help, either. I started cooking in England where I could have the whole kitchen to myself. Back in Moscow, I only cook now and again, and I do wish I could do it more often. Each time I gaze at the mouth-watering food photos on Pinterest I wish I could bake, fry and grill every single dish. Sadly, when we were redoing the kitchen following a terrible flood, we chose not to have an oven. Perhaps I will do something about it (or not).
5.Spending time online
I agree with those who say we need a break from the Internet. There are paper books to read, and someone like me is much better at writing on paper than using a typewriter or computer. Still, we need to be online, as life is happening there, too. There are things to which I don’t want to react, but there are others that certainly require my attention.
So, here are my 5 habits that I wish I had not lost and which I want to regain now. What about you? Have you lost any good or useful habits? Have you regained them or decided to part with them for good? Share your story in comments!
Contrary to the tradition of previous years, I’ve decided to wish you a happy new year 2020 on January 1st. In the early years of my blogging I used to write longreads with resolutions on December 31st (see 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), but the pace of life often stopped me from making half of them happen. So even though I continued making plans, I stopped sharing them on the blog.
Instead I’m happy to tell you about what happened in 2019. I published 3 books, 2 electronic where I’m the author, and 1 illustrated paperback where I’m the translator and literary editor. I travelled to a few interesting places and took lots of photos. I had a nomination for a literary award. My photo was published in a local newspaper. Between 2013 and 2017 I won several awards as a translator, a poet and a singer, so I have something to build upon. Altogether, these events have provided me with some ideas that I’m going to explore in 2020.
At the moment, at least 3 books have already been scheduled for 2020, so I may eventually outdo my own publishing plan. Most importantly, I’m thinking about the concept for LCJ. Since it started, it has been growing far and wide because its author is a very expansive Sagittarian. It’s become such a beautiful tree that it’d hurt me to cut off any of the branches, especially because they all serve their own purpose. So, I guess I’ve almost found the way to mould all them into a nice composition around the LCJ stem.
Last but not least, while we’re on this topic, I’m going to ask you to spread the word about this blog. It’s been going non-stop from 2006 till 2014, earned a Google Blog of Note nod in 2009, but then from 2015 till 2017 it was put in hybernating mode. I need your help in getting it up and running again. I’ve got some ideas, but the word-of-mouth still does its magick. Also, if there are topics you’d like me to write about, drop me a comment.
To get back to the date, on the first day of New Year I wish us all happiness, health, love, wellbeing and peace. The year of the Mouse always initiates a new Chinese calendar cycle, so it is a good omen for all our great beginnings.
To the wonderful, successful, loving 2020! Cheers!
Last year I was very lucky to attend an organ recital at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It also happened to be the Orthodox Easter, and later that evening I found myself at a Presbyterian Sunday sermon. I recorded a couple of pieces, one of which you may now hear.