12.25.18: Christmas Not Christmas

When is Christmas not Christmas? When you’re in Russia, where they follow the Julian calendar for religious holidays which means Christmas here is celebrated January 7. There’s still that festive holiday feeling in the air of course (although it’s really more directed at New Year’s Eve/Day, which became the really big holiday after Christmas was banned post-revolution and Christmas Trees became New Year Trees) but otherwise it’s business as usual so after a meeting with Alexey and Alexander and Lera and Nastya about the SWS soundtrack, what could be more wintery than a visit to the Arctic Museum? There’s a whole wing dedicated to penguins plus enough taxidermy, dioramas, maps, odd ephemera and weird paintings to captivate one for hours. Points off for the fact that aside from one very kickass photo of a woman steering a sled pulled by a passel of reindeer, indigenous people are pretty much entirely excluded from this story of Arctic “discovery” (surprise, surprise). Throw in a snowy stroll down Pushkinskaya, a dog in a sweater, a cat picture frozen in ice, miniature snowmen, coffee in the world’s tiniest cafe, a hoppin’ babushki market, an opening at Borey Art Center and a delicious dinner with Cynthia at Bekitzer and that’s a pretty much a perfect Not Christmas Christmas.


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