View Full Version : Our holidays.

21-12-03, 18:44
I suggest that we share knowledge and opinions about our holidays. Some are international, some are not. Some co-incide in time, some do not.
What do you say?:)

29-12-03, 21:34
Since you're living in Russia and probably are orthodox (??) could you tell us a little about how the traditions have changed after the fall of the USSR?

How did the change influence the celebration of Christmas and New Year etc.?

Is todays celebration influenced more by the "western shop -commercialism" than the pre-USSR religious traditions?

We - even in Finland - know little about how the traditions survived/changed during the socialist era.

30-12-03, 22:29
Well, thanks for the interest you have taken in our holidays.

One thing that is obvious: after the fall of the totalitarian soviet ideology there are less "ideological" holidays like the October revolution day (the 7th of November) - it is now called the Day of Reconciliation and Concord, the 1st of May - now it is the Day of spring or something of the kind, etc.

The Christmas and New Year celebration is greatly different from the rest of the world due to several reasons. First of all, as we follow the different calender, our Christmas is two weeks after the european one - on the 7 th of January. As the most of the countries celebrate the Christmas on Decemebr, 25, our people do it, too, though, of course, it is not an official holiday. The New Year (1st of January) is, probably the biggest and the most popular holiday here. Then comes our orthodox Christmas (see above), then we celebrate the old-style New Year (13-14th of January). This is also not an official holiday but it is observed and celebrated.
As for the commercialism that you mention, it is not as noticeable as it is in the western world but it also begins to tell here.:)

Gita Wiklund
31-12-03, 00:08

Could you describe how you celebrate new year?

In Sweden, generally speaking, we have a dinner with friends, drink champagne at midnight and enjoy the fireworks.
I remember when I was a child in Finland that we bought horse shoe shaped peaces of tin that we dropped in boiling water and the shape of the melted tin would then give us a sign of what the upcoming year would bring us. At least thatīs the way I remember it.

31-12-03, 14:01
Dear Gita,

The New year celebration seems to be very much like the one you enjoy.
Probably with us it is more of delicacies on the table than ususal, eating nearly all night, celebrating till the morinig.
There are usually also many fireworks.
Dancing, singing. visit of our Santa Claus (called Old Father Frost here) and his granddaughter, the Snowgirl.

Lots of presents, especially for the children.
The holiday is considered to be a family one, so it is spent at home with families and close friends, but there are people who prefer to celebrate it in a restaurant or at a country cottage.


01-01-04, 17:11
I simply wanted to add a couple of words to my last entry.

I have just watched TV and found out that there are lots of people willingly celebrating the New Year on the main square of the cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg.

I believe people do it in many countries, too, do you agree?


Gita Wiklund
01-01-04, 18:15
Originally posted by Cooper
..there are lots of people willingly celebrating the New Year on the main square of the cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg.

I believe people do it in many countries, too, do you agree?


Yes I believe so too. And especially at the shift from 1999-2000.:)

01-01-04, 19:35
Speaking about our holidays, which is a more observed holiday with you: Christmas or the New Year?

With us it is certainly the New Year.

Probably because of the orthodox rules or laws, probably, the most joyful and cheerful holiday is Easter. Christmas is much less publicly celebrated.

As I wrote earlier, the New Year celebration is the most popular holiday here.
Christmas is really much quieter, less public.


Gita Wiklund
01-01-04, 20:52
I would say that in Sweden christmas and new year are equally observed, but when I think about it, I believe most people would say christmas is more important to celebrate.

Christmas is more a family thing, a chance to gather familymembers, young and old, and most people find it important, especially when there are children in the family. Most people have a christmas tree, nowadays many choose to have a fake one, although I think most people still prefer a real tree. And other christmas decorations, many change curtains in the window, they are often red or green (that are considered to be christmas colors). The gifts are often placed under the tree, and opened in the evening. If you have young children, someone, most often the father in the house dress up as Santa Claus and give everyone their presents. This is mostly done in the evening after watching the special Disney cartoons selection on TV that is on every year on christmas eve, between 15.00-1600 in the afternoon. and after eating the christmas meal where ham is the most important among the different christmas dishes that are served.

New year is most often celebrated among friends, itīs not as much a familything, unless there are young children in the family. You eat delicious food, have drinks and dance at someones house or at a restaurant. And as I said, itīs very popular especially among men and boys to handle the fireworks at midnight. I myself prefer to watch in a safe distance.

June Pelo
01-01-04, 22:56
When I was growing up we had a lutfisk supper on Christmas Eve and then we opened our gifts (and we still follow this tradition). It was a family affair with no other people present. On Christmas Day we usually had ham for dinner, among other things, and then people visited or went out and sang carols at homes of friends.

As a child we had a live tree and decorated the inside of the house. But people didn't do much outside decorating then as they do now. I read about some people putting up elaborate decorations outside - using up to a half a million lights. Our local TV stations featured pictures of some of the most decorated homes. People here in Florida could go all-out with outside decorating because we don't have to cope with snow and nice. :)


Gita Wiklund
02-01-04, 01:11
In Sweden people have picked up the influences from America and more and more people are decorating outside. But itīs still not very common. Only a few decorate there houses with lights, more common is that they put lights in trees and bushes in the garden. Blinking lights in different colors have not been popular here, but we see more of that lately too. But itīs mostly immigrants from latin America and the mediterranean area that prefer that. Most swedes enjoy the still white light.

Itīs really beatiful here now. We have lots of snow!


02-01-04, 18:20
Well, it is very interetsing how the things have so very much in common and still they are so very different from country to country. Of course, we would not expect snow in Florida. Here in Russia very few people have houses of their own and enjoy decorating a tree outside.
But in Russia the tree is called a New Year Tree. It is always a spruce.
The food is not regulated in any way, just normally, as I told you already, there are more delicacies than ususal.
I noticed that more people begin to try cooking a turkey, which is very unusual for us. The turkey is rather a costly food here, that is why I never saw people queueing to buy it. Very few supermarkets sell turkey.
Probably someone will share recipes of cooking turkey?

And, of course, the well-known Russian tradition: lots of vodka.


Tracy Boeldt
03-01-04, 03:29
I was interested when you mentioned something about a Disney Cartoon special on Xmas--I just got a email from my Swedish cousins mentioning that they watch a Disney film called "Kalle Anka och hans vänner"--which I think that means something like "Duck & his friend".

Here in California, Xmas is celebrated much like Florida (since we have no snow here in the valley, but in the mountains there is lots of snow)--many people decorate the outside of their houses & the inside as well. My family generally leaves the lights up & the Xmas tree until after the New Year. The Xmas is celebrated more than the New Year (this year my brother wasn't here, since he is in Iraq right now). As a matter of fact, the past two years, my husband & I are already in bed--watching the celebrations with midnight rings in!


03-01-04, 09:42
Dear friends,

We mention the Disney Cartoon special. Children here also watch these cartoons.
In Russia we have season's New Year animated cartoons, too.
Not Christmas ones, as during the years of the soviet rule everything religious was totally forbidden, and the new ones have not been made as yet.

What about Finland and Sweden?
Tracy watched "Duck and his friends" - I believe it is a Swedish one. Are there many season's cartoons in Finland and Sweden?
Are they popular?


Gita Wiklund
03-01-04, 13:07
Kalle Anka och hans vänner = "Donald Duck and his friends" is what they call this 1 hour collection of clips from Disney films. Itīs not only Donald Duck but Cinderella, Robin Hood e t c. It has been showed every X-mas eve as far back as I can remember. I saw it the first time as a young child. Iīm 41 now. When I was a child it was something to look forward to, because swedish TV, then with with only 2 channels, seldom showed any cartoons. Todays children watch cartoons everyday, so I guess itīs not really the same feeling envolved for them. To answer Coopers question, no itīs only on christmas we have this cartoon special in Sweden.

03-01-04, 14:25
Thanks, Gita,

From what I see the cartoon that was mentioned is not a Swedish one.
I was trying to understand whether there are similar Swedish and Finnish animated cartoons.


Gita Wiklund
03-01-04, 14:38
There is an animated cartoon that is swedish that we see every X-mas eve. Itīs kind of a modern Robin Hoodstory (take from the rich and give to the poor). Itīs very popular. Itīs created by Per Åhlin and Tage Danielsson and called "Karl-Bertil Jonssons julafton"

03-01-04, 14:47
Dear Gita,

Thank you very much. Is it the only one you can think of?
Are there such Finnish cartoons?

I am greatly interested in cross-cultural aspects of communication and this point is very interesting for me.


Gita Wiklund
03-01-04, 15:53
Well, Cooper... I canīt think of anything more. I donīt think I generalize to much when I say that almost everything that is shown on TV in Sweden is imported from the US. We have recently even imported Halloween. In Sweden we used to have a tradition at easter, children dressed up as wiches and went from door to door to collect candie or money. Itīs a tradition slowly dying. Instead there is now halloween, and it has no roots in swedish culture.

03-01-04, 18:48
Thank you, dear Gita,

I can only say that some of these american holidays and traditions also creep up here gradually. Halloween is one of them.
It is not very popular, of course, but still some younger people enjoy it.
The tradition of dressing up and singing to get some sweets and bisquits nearly died here, too.
The communists did everything to eliminate the religious holidays and traditions. They nearly succeeded, unfortunately for our culture.
Now there is a great deal of extaneous bubble-gum traditions coming in to fill the exisiting empty space.


Gita Wiklund
03-01-04, 19:24
Well, I canīt blame any communism or even socialism for wiping out swedish religiousness and/or traditions. The culture has changed similarely in the western countries that have chosen the capitalistic highway. I have no intention to get in to a discussion of politics here. But the transforming of cultures is an interesting and complex subject

03-01-04, 20:34
Thank you, dear Gita,

By no means shall I draw you into any kind of a political discussion. I am very sorry if I sounded like this.
In our country as well as in all the ex-socialist countries it all happened more or less the same. In some of the countries it is not as noticeable as in ours.
Certainly, it was and is competely different in yours.
What matters is that the politics always influence the culture, and vice versa. Do you agree?


Gita Wiklund
03-01-04, 22:16
Originally posted by Cooper

By no means shall I draw you into any kind of a political discussion. I am very sorry if I sounded like this.
What matters is that the politics always influence the culture, and vice versa. Do you agree?


Of course I agree :) and I didnīt mean that you where trying to drag me into any political discussion. I just realized that it was in a natural way heading in that direction, and I wanted to point out that I had no intention of getting deeper into that. Thats all.

04-01-04, 10:32
Dear Gita,

Shall we call political discussions mentioning holidays (days of observance) like May Day, Day of the fall of Bastilia and the like?

I am all for jokes of this kind!


06-01-04, 20:09
Very soon we shall celebrate the Epiphany.

Of course, I am talking about the Orthodox holiday.

Do you celebrate it in Finland, Sweden, other countries?
How do you celebrate it?

Margaret Rader
06-01-04, 21:13
Being Protestant and mostly secular, we don't celebrate Epiphany -- however, I do keep my tree up until Jan. 6 or so, unlike many around here who take it down as soon as possible. I like having it up. And since we cut a tree from the woods nearby, it's very fresh.
This year I'm not going to take my tree down until it stops snowing -- yes, we are getting a real snow storm in Western Washington state. Six or 8 inches so far. Fortunately or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, it is expected to turn to rain late this afternoon and all wash away by tomorrow.

Margaret Holm Rader

06-01-04, 21:51
Thank you, dear Margaret,

I was just curious whther the tree you cut an bring home is also a spruce?

I will attach a picture of how strange the snow might look here.



Gunnar Damström
07-01-04, 06:12
We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!
Gunnar Damstrom

07-01-04, 17:23
Dear Gunnar,

Thank you for your congratulations and wishes!

I also wish you, your family, all the people you love and care about PEACE ON EARTH!

God bless you!

Margaret Rader
07-01-04, 19:30
Cooper, your snow beats our snow.

Our tree is always a Douglas Fir, a tree native to the Pacific Northwest.

Here's a snow picture!


08-01-04, 20:28
Dear Margaret,

Thank you for the picture!
It is wonderful. Our snow is not always wierd as the pictures that I send show.
The picture you sent shows our notmal layer of snow (say, in Novemebr).
Probably if I look from my south windows the picture will be very much alike!

God bless you!



13-01-04, 18:14
It is me, again.

Speaking about our traditions, tomorrow we observe the so called old-style (Julian calender) New Year.

Of course, there is no day-off, no official holiday.

But many people will celebrate it tonight.
I received a dozen congratulations already.


17-01-04, 19:22
January, 19 is the Orthodox holiday of Epiphany.

Many people go to the open water (ice-holes in lakes and rivers, wells, springs) and bathe.

The legend says that the water changes on all the Earth during this day.

22-01-04, 17:33
A question to everybody: who is going to celebrate the New Year according to the Oriental (Chinese) Calendar?
It is today + two more weeks.