on celebrating christmas like a russian

Well guys, I did it. I got through my first ever Christmas-away-from-home, which officially ranks in as the second weirdest Christmas of my life (following, of course, the one we spent snowed in at a hotel in Ohio).


This Christmas was weird because we celebrated it so much. I’m talking Christmas-themed English Clubs at three different locations, Christmas parties, Christmas gift exchanges, and a Christmas concert… on Christmas Eve and Christmas themselves. So, very similar to elementary school Christmases in that by the end I’m tired to death of Santa and Rudolph and Fahoo-Fores-Dahoo-Dores, but different from elementary school Christmases in that all the hooha seemed to encompass the holiday, rather than just preface it. I never got to leave the classes, clubs, and concerts and retreat to my family living room for fruit salad, carols, and underwear in my stocking (ugh).

It might seem surprising to you, as it has to several people, that Russians celebrate Christmas in December, but I don’t get a day off… as if they celebrate it but don’t observe it. But really, we do the same thing. How many grade school Spanish classes have Cinco de Mayo parties on May 5? In Mexico, I’ll bet for certain no schools are having parties, because they’re closed, because it’s their holiday. I can imagine it would be weird for a Mexican teaching Spanish in an elementary school somewhere in the US seeing her holiday “celebrated” but maybe not totally understood, perhaps accurately portrayed but not fully encountered the way she was used to at home.

So yes, I definitely missed home. BUT to make up for it (a little), Vickie and I had our own Christmas brunch, complete with french toast casserole, fruit salad, and a little gift exchange… alas, no underwear in my stocking. Although Vickie did get me a stocking 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 6.44.13 PM
and candle! and tea! and santa napkins!

Other Christmas things we did December 24-25:

  • Had a concert with the elementary students, for which we had been preparing for a month (you try to teach six-year-olds all the words to Jingle Bells in a foreign language… the whole month was necessary), and in which we also performed a number with the parents.
  • Had Christmas-themed classes and English Clubs with students at the Technical Lyceum. This resulted in a whole lot of gifts, like a statue of the “first Komi man” and a cake I still haven’t started eating yet, because SO MANY SWEETS (oops).

    Photo on 12-27-15 at 7.20 PM
  • Had English Club Christmas party at the university, to which two students showed up.
  • Had a Christmas concert at the university, to which lots of students, professors, and a news channel showed up!

    Look Mom, no locked knees!
  • Went to a birthday party of a friend and made more friends… including Jim Carrey the cat.


So it was a full few days, and different from home for sure, but still good 🙂 Then on the 26th I may or may not have slept in till 12:30pm… oh well, recovery is good.


For your entertainment, the news segment from the university concert…


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