This year the Christmas season arrived a lot earlier than in the past... I shouldn't really say "Christmas," however; in Russia all the hype is about New Year's. Since religion was basically banned under communism, the government appeased the people by making a big deal out of New Year's -- and blending Christmas traditions into its celebration. All Russians celebrate New Year's, regardless of their faiths, so everyone puts up a tree and anticipates the holiday -- it's truly the most important day of the year.
Christmas doesn't fall until the first week of January, according to the Orthodox calendar, and it doesn't have any hype attached to it -- it's purely religious. Not such a bad thing, I might add...
I noticed fake trees and decorations in some stores the week before Halloween!!
I made a point of venturing out to a the discount shop to get our tree during the second week of November; had I waited any longer, I might not have found what I was looking for. (The stand attached to the base of the tree we've used the past four years cracked and I couldn't get a replacement part, naturally...) The girls and I will decorate it this week.
Another welcome sign of Christmas is in my hand right now...
I decided to be adventurous and tried this flavor:
It's really nice to hear the American Christmas music throughout the cafe right now... They've played a bunch of "goodies but oldies" that my mom used to play when I was little. Elvis, anyone? I even heard some Beach Boys and Gene Autry.
The trees have been springing up throughout the city. They use these super-tall metal cones covered in fake branches and lights; I'd never seen anything like it in the US. The trees come in all colors, too; Natalia's favorite tree is a cone covered in alternating turquoise, white and lilac lights (couldn't get a picture since I was driving). Here you can see a tree that wasn't quite finished.
Here's a finished tree, not yet lit.
This past weekend the lights came on, much to my daughters' delight! We purposely took "the long way home" from Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday so we could stop and admire the tree at Pushkin Square -- you can see Natalia in front of it. (Every four minutes the decorations on it change both pattern and color; my movie clip of it didn't come out well).
I'll do plenty more posts about the holiday decorations here, so stay tuned!