“Russian Holidays in English” Project
Read Alyona’s letter. Answer the question:”Does the girl like Russian Christmas? Why?”
Hi! My name is Alyona. I’m eleven. I’m from Russia, the largest country in the world.
I live in the Urals. My native village is not far from the border (граница) of Europe and Asia.
I’m a Christian and my family belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church. We often go to church on Sundays and there is a church school for children too. We’ve got a special classroom and we attend classes once a week. We study the Bible, the history of the Russian Church and learn about the life of Russian saints.
Every year we are told the story from St. Luke’s Gospel of how the Virgin Mary gave birth to the Infant Christ and laid Him in a manger (кормушка, ясли). At this time many angels appeared in the sky and glorified God (славили Бога). Then the shepherds (пастухи) greeted Him by bowing and the Three Wise Men (волхвы, мудрецы) brought Him their gifts (дары).
Well, I’d like to tell you about how Russian children celebrate Christmas in our place. This holiday is observed on January, 7th. It begins with the midnight service because the Infant God was born at night. Orthodox church singing, lights of candles and Russian icons all around could excite you too. It’s a holy night indeed!
The next day there is a Christmas party for children. Our church looks a bit unusual inside. In the middle of it you can see the Nativity scene (рождественский вертеп). It’s made of fir-tree branches and presents a cave in which Jesus was born.
Our Christmas tree is decorated not only with coloured balls but with hand-made paper angels. On the top of the fir-tree there is an eight-angle star symbolizing the star of Bethlehem.
The party begins with a concert.
We recite poems, sing songs and sometimes make a performance. Then our ‘batyushka’ (Orthodox priest -священник) gives us Christmas presents: nice books, calendars, icons. He congratulates all the guests.
Later our parents lay the table and there is a Christmas repast (a communal dinner) with lots of tasty things. Then we play various games. We have a nice time together!
It’s interesting to know that Russian ‘Rozhdestvo’ lasts for a few days and we still have winter holidays. The winter weather in the Urals is cold and frosty, there is a lot of snow. In the photo you can see our favourite game. We call it “Butterflies”. Just imagine yourself (вообразите себя) a butterfly and don’t be afraid to fall onto the deep snow. It’s such a pleasure! We also enjoy skiing, skating, playing ice hockey, sleighing down the hills.
In the evening people in our village can meet little groups of masquerading children. We have self-made Bethlehem stars in our hands and go from house to house singing ‘kolyadki’ (Christmas carols). We wish wealth and happiness for everybody. In return for our songs we are given sweets, chocolates and coins. It’s fun!
Our teacher also arranges a traditional trip to Ekaterinburg. It’s the main city of our region, so children from all towns and villages come to the Hierarcal (Архиерейская) Christmas Yolka. There you may not only see the most beautiful performance but also play with Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) and his granddaughter Snegurochka. They are so kind and merry, and every child wants to be on a picture with them!
The festive days of Christmas in Russia are called “svyatki” (the holy days). They are my favourite ones!
Put the events in the right order:
The children have a Christmas dinner and play various games.
There is a Christmas concert the next day.
Alyona goes to the midnight service.
They go from house to house singing ‘kolyadki’.
The children and their teacher travel to Ekaterinburg.
Alyona and her friends get presents from ‘batyushka’
Complete the sentences:
Alyona lives … .
On Sundays her family … .
Before Christmas the teacher tells … .
Russian Christmas is celebrated … .
… can excite people in a Russian church.
The Nativity scene is … .
The Christmas tree is decorated … .
At the Christmas concert … .
Russian “Rozhdestvo lasts … .
In the evening … .
Alyona’s teacher … .
… are kind and merry.
Answer the following questions:
1. What Church does Alyona’s family belong to?
2. What do children study at the church school?
3. Why does the church look unusual on January, 7th?
4. What presents do Alyona’s friends get from ‘batyushka’?
5. Who comes to the Hierarcal Christmas Yolka in Ekaterinburg?
Speaking and Writing
Speak about what you can see in the Christmas icon.
Tell your classmates about your favourite winter outdoor games.
Work in pairs. Ask your partner about the way he spends ‘svyatki’. Find out:
if his /her family celebrates Christmas;
how he/she decorates his/her Christmas tree;
if he/she knows some ‘kolyadki’;
what kind of presents he/she gets from Ded Moroz;
if he/she likes Christmas performances and concerts.
Write a story about your Christmastime. You can do it on a sheet of paper and illustrate it with photos or pictures like Alyona did.
Elena Y. Zamotaeva “Russian Christmastime”
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