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Airdate: Jan 13, 2004

Alaskan Russian Orthodox Christmas: Starring

Alaskan Russian Orthodox Christmas: Starring
Russian traders left the legacy of their traditions in Anchorage Alaska, including the Christmas-time practice of "starring".

StarringHeres a program from our archives.Music: Slavic carolJM: In the 1700's Alaska had been settled by Russian traders, and the legacy of their culture and traditions still remains. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the This month in and around Anchorage, Alaska many communities celebrate Russian Orthodox Christmas. Groups of people go from house to house carrying an ornate star and singing carols. They call it "starring." Father Benjamin Peterson is Dean of Saint Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage.*FBP: "Starring takes its inspiration from the star that the Wise Men followed. As the Wise Men were brought to the good news of the birth of the Christ child now this kind of same star is visiting the homes of each of the people in the village. And ah, the good news of the nativity of Christ is brought to each home and ah each home becomes an extension of the church, in a sense a kind of little church. The table in the home being, you know, almost a little altar of the little church of the family. And so the whole community celebrates this in starring. Starring is one of those ways in which these very remote communities that are very often isolated from each other, especially in the dark and cold of winter, how they manage to kind of keep together. It's kind of a social glue that keeps these communities together. Some of them are only, have you know, seven hundred people. Some of them have less - 300 people. So starring becomes a way that people connect with each other, and in the giving of gifts, you know, kind of open themselves to each other. Its kind of a way of renewing communities so it even sends out a sense of belonging to people who are away from home - and, and keeps these communities together."JM: Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast. *The Most Reverend Benjamin Peterson is currently the Archbishop of San Francisco and the West of the Orthodox Church of America.