Airdate: Jan 07, 1998
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS
According to the old Julian calendar, Christmas falls on January 7th. It’s a day of prayer and song throughout the Russian Orthodox World.
Thirteen days after Western Christmas, on January 7th, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates its Christmas, in accordance with the old Julian calendar. It's a day of both solemn ritual and joyous celebration. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
We're listening to Russian Christmas carols, recorded on wax cylinders one hundred years. These recordings provide a vital link to a tradition that was nearly lost to history.
After the 1917 Revolution, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations. It wasn't until 75 years later, in 1992, that the holiday was openly observed. Today, it's once again celebrated in grand fashion, with the faithful participating in an all-night Mass in incense-filled Cathedrals amidst the company of the painted icons of Saints.
Christmas in Russia is associated with a number of other practices, which represent a blending of tradition from Russia's Christian and pre-Christian past.
It was once common practice, on Christmas Eve, for groups of people masquerading as manger animals to travel from house to house, having themselves a rousing good time, and singing songs known as kolyadki . Some kolyadki were pastoral carols to the baby Jesus, while others were homages to the ancient solar goddess Kolyada, who brings the lengthening days of sunlight through the winter. In return for their songs, the singers were offered food and coins, which they gladly accepted, moving on to the next home.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.