Рождество – Christmas


In Ukraine we celebrate Christmas on January 7th. It’s family religious holiday. It’s a peaceful and quiet event, which begins on January 6th with Sviata Vechera (Holy Supper). When the children see the first star in the eastern evening sky, which symbolizes the trek of the Tree Wise Men, the Sviata Vechera may begin.

I remember one particular Christmas when, in the evening, our family gathered in my granparent’s old and warm home. At that Christmas I was 15, the age when teens think that they are adults and that nobody can understand them. My father took out from a bookcase an old photograph album with dingy black & white photos and started to tell stories about his childhood. And I saw a picture of a young man: he wore bell-bottomed trousers, his shirt was unbuttoned, its ends were tied in a knot, his hair was uncombed. My father said "It’s me at 17". Then he added "Don’t stare at me; it was fashionable".

I was speechless. In that moment I realized that this always serious man with a bald spot, who wears glasses, has not always been like this. That at some time he was full of crazy ideas, did some thoughtless actions, and thought that nobody can understand him.

В Украине Рождество празднуют совсем не так как в США. Мы начинаем праздновать Рождество вечером 6-го января, и к нам на Рождество не приходит Санта. Это релегиозный, домашний праздник, когда вместе собираются несколько поколений семьи.

И сейчас, так далеко от родины, я вспоминаю старый, теплый бабушкин дом где за большим столом собирались мои родные. В то Рождество мне было лет 15. Возраст когда продростки считают себя взрослыми и, в то же время, уверены в том что взрослые их не понимают. Отец достал из шкафа старые альбомы с пожелтевшими от времени, черно-белыми фотографиями. Отец рассказывал истории о своем детстве, я слушала и смеялась. И вот на из фотографий я увидела юношу: брюки клеш, рубашка расстегнута, ее концы завязаны узлом, волосы растрепаны. Отец произнес: "Это я в 17". Потом добавил: "И не надо так на меня смотреть – тогда это было модно".

Я просто потеряла дар речи. В тот момент я осознала что этот всегда серьезный, представительный, человек с ранней лысиной, который давно одевает очки для чтения, не всегда был таким. Когда-то его тоже переполняли безумные идеи, он совершал глупые поступки и считал что взрослые его не понимают.

Рождественские традиции в России – Christmas Traditions in Russia

Christmas is considered one of the main holidays of Christians, the second after Easter. On this day believers celebrate the major event – the birth of the Divine Son Jesus Christ who has come to earth to rescue human souls. Celebrating Christmas in Russia is similar to Belarus and Ukraine, and it begins with Christmas Eve January 6, which is called the Sochelnyk. The evening meal on the Eve of Christmas is accompanied by many traditions and ceremonies. This day in food it was possible to accept only so-called sochivo – boiled wheat (or rice) with honey and fruits, and only after liturgy, which passes in evening prayer. This tradition also has a denominating holiday.

Many believers this day, having come from a temple after a morning service, abstain from eating food before there occurs in the sky, the first star, which symbolizes the star which lit up above Bethlehem at the moment of birth of the Divine Baby. Evangeline’s agree, having seen it, that eastern wise men came to bow to the Christ and brought Him rich gifts. It is possible to celebrate after occurrence in the sky of first joyful fire. The main culinary event of Christmas is a supper on Sochelnyk. Our ancestors on the eve of Christmas necessarily put on a table a bunch of fresh hay – in memory of the place, in which was born Jesus. A table covered by a snow-white cloth and placed on it twelve dishes – the number of the apostles, – and all without meat. Among these dishes, in olden time, people prepared fish, borsch, vareniki, cabbage, pies and others. But with the approach of the 7-th of January, on the table it was authorized to put meat dishes.

At the first day of Christmas holidays, January 7, almost no visitors go out. Only married children should visit parents after dinner, and thus to speak, that they carry "supper to the grandfather". On other days after Christmas before the Christening – Svyatki – it was acceptable to take care of the poor and patients requiring people: to visit children’s houses, shelters, hospitals, prisons. Many years ago in Svyatki even the kings dressed as the poor people, visited prisons and gave alms. These days where distinguished by the special saturation magic traditions, guessings and signs. Women beautifully covered tables and prepared the best entertainments.

The special tradition of Christmas and Svyatki in Russia was kolyadki, or glorification. Youth and children dressed up and went out into the court yard with a large self-made star, singing church songs, and also spiritual songs-kolyadki devoted to Christmas. The custom for singing kolydki spread everywhere, but in different areas of the country, had different features.

In some areas of Russia a star replaced "vertep" – with an original doll theatre, in which where representation of Christmas Jesus. The celebrating Svyatki is richly reflected in folklore and literary creativity. The Christmas days became, in the words of the Great Russian writer Fedor Dostoevsky "days of the family cathedral", days of mercy and reconciliation. The stories about kind, wonderful events occurring to people at Christmas, have received the name Svyatki histories.

Why do we celebrate Christmas after the Catholics? The difference between Christmas at Orthodox and at other confessions is a difference between the "very old" Julian calendar and the "new" Gregorian. The Gregorian calendar corresponds to the movement of the Earth around the Sun, so, better reflects seasonal change of temperatures, and change of seasons. The calendars and calendar reforms from the very beginning were perceived in a religious context. "The New Style" was discussed in 1563 on Trident Cathedral, the reformation cathedral of Western Church which finally determined it to be a Catholic character. The instruction to use a new calendar was proclaimed in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII; in honour of him the calendar also is called Gregorian. The Pope offered all Christian kings to support its innovation. For updating "displacement" at once there were added 10 days, so in 1582 after October 4 followed the 15th.

By society the calendar was perceived as a Catholic idea – Protestant countries accepted it only in the XVIII century, and Orthodox at the end of the XIX – beginning of the XX century, the change on "Catholic" bill of years looked almost like a treachery of religion.

But on the world stage in the XXI century, the Gregorian calendar today is simply the standard civil calendar, like the Julian during the Roman Empire. The new style was accepted in Russia by theSoviet authority, but the Russian Orthodox Church consciously has remained in the old calendar, in parallel time, not wishing to subordinate the time to the non-Christian state. In the new calendar for us is March 8, February 23, and First May. In the old are habitual sacred days, fasts, and church holidays.

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