A large area in the amusement park "Tivoli" in Copenhagen is laid out for a Russian Christmas with a version of the Vasilij cathedral and striped onion domes. When they visit the cathedral people are brought through Russian landscapes - and animated pixies and angel choirs are singing Russian Christmas songs.
Russian Christmas in Tivoli
|Russian church, Copenhagen, foto: gb|
|Moscow Red Square with Christmas tree|
|Father Frost arrives in a Troika.|
Father Frost and his helper origin from an ancient myth . Father Frost is like Santa Claus a friendly old soul, the Russian name is Ded Moroz (=Father Frost) - and the girl Snegurotjka, who's with him, is not Snow White from Pushkin's poem and Grimm's fairy tale, but the Snow Maiden from a famous Russian folk tale about two elderly people who ardently wanted a child. Their prayers were answered. A lump of snow, which the man in despair clenches in his fists, suddenly comes to life as a beautiful adult girl. She's living with them through winter, but when the young people of the village go to spring feast, she sneaks out to take part in the fun. This includes that the girls have to lift their skirts and jump across a fire, which is a wellknown fertility ritual - and she wants to do like the others. She jumps across the fire, and she melts like ice, she disappears. This folk tale is much more complicated and beautiful than I have told here. It's described in lots of connections.
|Snow Maiden, ballet|
Another custom connected to Christmas and New Year's Eve was to tell fortune. It was very popular, and it is still used in some places - it was especially common among young girls. The girls went to a foretell-meeting without making the sign of the cross by the door as they used to, they walked aside the usual paths to the meeting-place, they turned the sacred pictures to the wall and covered them in a cloth, and they told fortune in places, which had no connection to any gods or any ikons, places like the bath house, which was always placed isolated down by the water, the river or the lake. One way in which to foretell was in a plate with a little water, in which was melted wax or stearic - and then they took omens from the emerging patterns. The girls was usually guided by an experienced woman, preferably a widow, who helped them interpreting the omens.
It seems that those meetings also included a pawn-omen. The girls delivered an object, like a ring or earring, to the leader, who - following some rituals - put them in a bowl with water and covered it while stirring. Then they sang some special omen songs. After each song an object was chosen, and the owner was connected to the song. The songs were not what they seemed to be. If they sang a song about the rich suitor, then it meant early death, it they sang about the rutting tomcat, then it meant early marriage etc.
|Pewter hand mirror|
Snow Maiden with music by the Russian composer Vladimir Podgoretsky.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!