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Neighbourhood Cam: January Sky

The abnormally low temperatures in Moscow have brought spectacularly bright sunsets. The red glow against the frozen sky amazes and terrifies the viewer.

Sunset, Jan 8th, 16:11

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.

Sunset, Jan 8th, 16:36

Incidentally, these two photos were taken with a 25-minute difference, and just see how different they are.

The Path to Orthodox Christmas

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.

Source: Pinterest

It’s RabbiCat Year Again!

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.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

My Namesake Bunny

As I was browsing various sites for research purposes, I came across a Russian site for crochet lovers. And guess what I found? A Bunny Julia! The beautiful toy was crocheted by Svetlana from the Russian city of Tyumen, using acrylic and mohair yarn, and toned with acrylic paint and cosmetics. It was described by visitors as “pensive”, “blue”, “clever”, “moving”, and “with character”. All of which, apart from “blue” I guess, describe me, too. Many thanks to Svetlana!

The photo is courtesy of Kru4ok.ru.

Of Cats and Hares (Another Happy New Year Post)

A friend of mine has shared this video with a group of us, and I wanted to pass this good on. Undoubtedly, one of the questions is why we celebrate the year of both Rabbit AND Cat. Well, the answer is that Cat is the animal in the Vietnamese calendar, while Rabbit rules the respective year in the Chinese zodiac. There is a linguistic explanation to this; and there is also a legend, according to which Rat loved playing tricks on the Cat, and made sure the poor animal was left out of the calendar. The video needs no introduction, however, as both Rabbit and Cat are known for their love for lazy afternoon retreats…


How to Buy a Cat in the Bag

For a start, there is a blog called Cat in the Bag that I love for its witty observations and funny captions to the photos.

Then, here is a very detailed instruction on how to find a missing pet. The website is called Cats in the Bag, and one of the advice is particularly sound: “think like your pet”. So, next time your pet is missing, put yourself in his skin and ask, where you would hide out while your owner was hoovering the room.

The rest of the post, however, is about the actual saying “cat in the bag” and its diverse and sundry equivalents. The phrase “cat in the bag” refers to the times of food scarcity when smart market sellers tried to fool the buyers by offering them a cat or a puppy in the bag instead of meat. The majority of languages, as we can see, share this experience.

Bulgarian да купиш котка в торба to buy a cat in a bag
Catalan fer passar gat per llebre to give a cat instead of a hare
Croatian kupiti mačka u vreći to buy a cat in a sack
Czech koupit zajíce v pytli to buy a hare in a sack
Danish at købe katten i sækken to buy the cat in the sack
Dutch een kat in de zak kopen to buy a cat in the sack
English to buy a pig in a poke
Estonian ostma põrsast kotis to buy a piglet in a sack
French acheter un chat dans un sac to buy a cat in a bag
Finnish ostaa sika säkissä to buy a pig in a sack
German die Katze im Sack kaufen to buy the cat in the sack
Greek αγοράζω γουρούνι στο σακκί to buy a pig in a sack
Hebrew חתול בשק cat in a sack
Hungarian zsákbamacska cat in a sack
Icelandic að kaupa köttinn í sekknum to buy the cat in the sack
Indonesian kucing dalam karung cat in a sack
Irish ceannaigh muc i mala buying a pig in a bag
Latvian pirkt kaķi maisā to buy a cat in a sack
Lithuanian pirkti katę maiše to buy a cat in a sack
Luxembourgish d’Kaz am Sak kafen to buy the cat in a sack
Macedonian да купиш мачка во вреќа to buy the cat in the sack
Norwegian kjøpe katta i sekken to buy the cat in the sack
Polish kupić kota w worku to buy a cat in a sack
Portuguese comprar gato por lebre to buy a cat instead of a hare
Romanian a cumpăra cu ochii închiși to buy with closed eyes
Russian купить кота в мешке to buy a cat in a sack
Spanish dar gato por liebre to give a cat instead of a hare
Spanish hay gato encerrado there is a cat shut inside
Serbian купити мачку у џаку to buy a cat in a sack
Slovak kúpiť mačku vo vreci to buy a cat in a sack
Slovene kupiti mačka v žaklju to buy a cat in a sack
Swedish köpa grisen i säcken to buy the pig in the sack

Catalan, Spanish, and Portuguese buyers could mistake a cat for a hare, hence respective idioms reflect that. In Czech, however, it is a hare that was sold instead of meat in the bag; I suspect, though, that some buyers wouldn’t mind cooking a rabbit.

And a few geographically close countries also share the variant of “pig in a poke” (poke – a bag). English and Irish, Estonian, Finnish, and Swedish, all have experienced buying something without prior knowledge.

Even Greeks occasionally were sold a pig in a sack, and I wondered, why. Greece is surrounded by countries where it were cats that were put in the bags. A possible answer may be that piglets that were usually sold in a bag, thanks to their small size, were considered polluted. Susan Cole, Associate Professor at the Buffalo University, explained in 2000:

Polluted objects were not only not eaten, but avoided for fear of contamination, except when their ‘foulness’ could be ritually controlled. Ritual sacrifice then, could accommodate a piglet’s nastier qualities, whereas the dining room could not.

Still, I’d prefer to end of a positive note, by sharing this wonderful image of a very smart cat in the sack (that may also remind you of the Cheshire Cat) and referring you to a short story by O’Henry, The Green Door. For every pig or cat in the sack there may surely be something worthwhile, beautiful and meaningful. Perhaps, it pays sometimes to be happy about whatever you find in the bag.

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