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Sunday, January 09, 2005

new years!

as we're approaching the middle of january already, i felt like i should mention how i spent my new years eve. i guess i should start by explaining 'the holiday season' in russia, for those of you who aren't familiar with it. The big holiday is New Years, which Russia celebrates with the rest of the world. The trick is, that they start celebrating (ie drinking) at our Christmas, December 25, and don't really stop until "Old New Years" on January 13-4. The Russian Orthodox Church still celebrates Christmas by the old calendar, so Russia's Christmas falls on the 7th. "Old New Years" is when New Years was 300 years ago before Peter the Great westernized the calendar, and everyone but the church got their belt buckles on straight. And Russians love telling you about how crazy they are because they still celebrate "old new years." seriously, you won't even have to ask, they'll come up to you and tell you and watch you for some significant reaction. and really it is pretty nuts.

So that's more or less the holiday season. Banks in Yaroslavl were closed on Monday the 3rd because it was a 'holiday.' And actually most of them are still closed. The big bank on my street is closed until the 11th. This year the weekends more or less lined up with the little gaps between the 'holidays' and the nights before and after the holidays so everyone just threw their hands up in the air and headed for liquor stores.

I spent New Years Eve proper at my friend's dacha in Androniki, a little village about 30 minutes north of Yaroslavl. I went out with the first group (about 10 people i think) in a little van we rented, and another 8 or so came in private cars later once we'd gotten the stove heated up. Andrei and I had been planning on trying to get out earlier to heat up the stove in the morning because it wasn't until about 9 or 10 that we couldn't see our breath inside. Fortunately it wasn't that cold and no one froze to death or anything. We brought a lot of food and things with us, so the girls made salads and cooked a chicken in honor of the rooster while the guys, well, sat around and/or started drinking. i helped shovel the driveway with a bucket so the girls coming later wouldn't have to trek in through a foot of snow in the dark. so i guess i did my part.

and so then new years. sitting around the table, eating, drinking, singing and dancing. i'm sure there was probably dancing, but i don't have pictures of that. the company and atmosphere were incredible. new years in the russian countryside is going to be tough to beat. the pictures catch the mood better than i will. zhenya zhdan and i took about 100 pictures each, and between us there were a few good ones. so i don't know, i'm posting them more for people in yaroslavl than for all y'all back home, but take a look if you want to see a real russian dacha and stove. and real russians on their favorite night of the year.

morning, needless to say, was a little more mellow, if not sober. most people woke up at intervals during the late morning and picked at the leftovers on the table and went back to sleep. everyone was tired and sore from falling asleep, well, where ever they happened to be when they fell asleep. heads hurt. everyone was somehow cheery, all the same. the house was mostly in ruins, but it had gotten really warm and cozy. after we cleaned up everything we sat around for about an hour before someone realized that we would actually have to call taxis if they were going to come get us.

probably a hazy outline is the best way to leave it.

on the 2nd (after everyone had a chance to sleep a bit and recover), a second new years party was put together in the hole. that didn't end until around 8 in the morning, and that evening has already moved into legend as "the 2nd." i realize that was only a few days ago, but these have been really long days. and i've spent them all with the same handful of people. anyway flash if you're reading this, everyone was bummed you weren't here to celebrate it with us. send an email sometime if you want the x rated version and/or the photographs that aren't seeing the light of ofoto-day.

then we had a christmas party at the hole on the 6th-7th but that dwindled down pretty quickly when most of the girls left for midnight church services.

and the narod is already whispering about old new years, which is yet to come....