February 22, 2018

A Holiday for Every Occasion


A Holiday for Every Occasion
A Second Russian Holiday Season

1. A blaze of glory seems to be the perfect descriptor for the cathedral-like wooden structure that artists burned to celebrate Maslenitsa, the Russian holiday that kicks off Lent. Every year, artists in the Kaluga region of Russia build a giant structure to burn during Maslenitsa, taking the usual Maslenitsa tradition of burning a scarecrow to the next level. Local Russian Orthodox officials condemned this year’s structure, as they thought it looked like a cathedral. The artists insist that this year’s structure is a castle, not a cathedral, and they successfully explained this to the Russian Orthodox Church. All’s well that ends well, but the lesson stands: if you play with fire, you might get burned.

Photo: Andrey Sharonov

2. The Year of the Dog, Moscow style! This week Moscow rang in Chinese New Year with an exhibition at the GUM state-owned department store. The celebration featured art that drew on both Chinese and Russian traditions: Russian Fabergé eggs and Chinese “blessed eggs,” Chinese Friendlies dolls and Russian Matryoshka dolls … you get the idea. The festivities also included silk painting, Chinese movies, and Chinese dance performances. This is one of many Russian celebrations this month: with Valentine’s Day, Maslenitsa, and International Women’s Day all being celebrated in late winter and early spring, it’s becoming hard to tell when the Russian holiday season ends!

3. A classic feature of Moscow’s landscape will soon disappear forever. No, the Kremlin isn’t being bulldozed, and no, St. Basil’s Cathedral isn’t getting a paint job. This might be even more drastic: banks will no longer be allowed to display currency exchange signs outside of their buildings. This is part of the new rules regulating banks that can make foreign currency transactions, but Russia’s Central Bank has not explained why this particular rule is necessary. But, to be fair, the signs were pretty ugly.

In Odder News:

Photo: Albert Jankowski

  • If there’s still ice, then no dice: St. Petersburg is holding a competition for new methods to remove icicles from rooftops.
  • The future is now: a Moscow apartment is being sold for bitcoin.
  • Russian students got the lay of the (is)land this week when they discovered a new island created by a melting glacier.
Quote of the Week:

“We are a very hungry group of guys… next game will be the biggest one.”

—Ilya Kovalchuk, forward for the Olympic Athletes from Russia hockey team after defeating Norway in the semifinal

Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.

 

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Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
White Magic

White Magic

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Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

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Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

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Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

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Okudzhava Bilingual

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The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
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At the Circus (bilingual)

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The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  

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