We saw off the last of the mince pies this afternoon and tomorrow the tree gets stripped ready for Mr Rent-a-Tree to take it back to the forest. All done bar paying the VISA bill, you might say. But actually, we still haven’t had Christmas.
This year we are in the strange position of belonging to a parish that’s under the direct jurisdiction of Moscow. This means that liturgically we’re on the Julian calendar and Christmas Day will be on Friday, January 7th.
It doesn’t matter to us, self-employed old farts who rarely leave the house, but I can imagine the difficulties for all those parents whose young children went back to their Irish schools today. What are they going to do? Keep them out of school on Friday? My Christmas message to Patriarch Kyrill (who refers to the Orthodox in Ireland as his ‘Western outpost’ is ‘please join the rest of the world.’
A few years ago we were in Russia for January 7th. Among our memories, no doubt made fonder by the passage of time and hypothermia, is the trudge to church between snow-laden silver birches, 9am and still pitch dark. Also the earnestness with which Russian children watched for the first star to appear on Christmas Eve. And the teeth-itchingly sweet, baroque dessert bought in our honour from St Petersburg’s equivalent of Walmart.
If you would like one little taste of a non-Walmart Russian Christmas I recommend this recording of the Nativity Troparion which even in translation is beautiful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKmZTEamkJw
Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, has shown to the world the light of wisdom. For by it those who worshipped the stars were led by a star to adore Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high.