Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Around the World- Russia

Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom!

Aren't you glad you don't have to write that out on every Christmas card? All that is simply Merry Christmas in Russian. The Russian "Santa" is "Ded Moroz" which would be Grandfather Frost or more commonly known as "Father Frost".

Today we started our Christmas Around the World, for no particular reason we chose Russia. Here's some of the cool facts we found about Russia.

They celebrate Christmas on January 7th, and consider it as part of their Festival of Winter. The Festival of Winter is 39 days long, and begins at the end of November and goes until the evening of the January 6th. During the festival people exchange gifts, go to parties, go skating and go tobogganing. They also fast for 40 days. Which means not eating eggs, milk, meat, cheese, or any other food made from animals.

On January 6th dinner starts when the first star is in the sky (or if it's cloudy when it gets dark). They have 12 different courses for dinner; the 12 dishes represent the 12 apostles. Example of what their dishes may consist of; fish, cabbage, dried, fruit, and beet soup (borsch). the most traditional dish is a special porridge call Kutya (Koo-T'YA). Even during dinner they not allowed any of the "fasting foods", also alcohol/wine is not permitted. After dinner kids go door to door singing/caroling and receive treats. To celebrate people go to church, say prayers, and sing hymns and carols.

Jordan's finished Nesting Dolls
Russia is known for their babushka (Matryoshka) dolls also known as nesting or stacking dolls. While I told the boys about how Russians celebrate and the types of traditions they have, they worked on a simple nesting doll craft. I found a template for the babushka dolls on line and ran off copies. In order to "nest" them we used a bathroom cup to glue the largest doll to and placed the dolls in the cup.

To help make this a hand-on learning experience we attempted in making Kutya. The Kutya didn't go over too well. My boys are usually good about trying something new; with the exception of Joey, he likes what he knows and knows what he likes. Jacob and Jordan said it was just alright, Joey took a no thank you bite. I liked it, I wasn't something I would want to eat all the time, but it wasn't bad. It reminds me of eating oatmeal but the poppy seeds makes it taste grainy. I explained to Jacob that his ancestors from his dad's side are for Ukraine and this is what they also at during Christmas. Then I explained what ancestors meant. He cracks me up, he asked "Wow! How many Aunt Sisters do I have?" If you would like to give this porridge a try the recipe is listed below or you can try another variation which can be found on line.

Trying a traditional
Russian Christmas dish.
Joey didn't really care for it.

1 cup wheat
4 cups water
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1/2 cup poppy seeds
Honey 2-3 Table spoons

1) Was wheat in cold water, then put it in a bowl or pot and soak it in water over night.
2) Pour water out, and wash wheat again. Place wheat in a pan, then add 4 cups of water and cook for a few minutes until ready, you can add more water if needed. (It didn't tell me, but you have to wait for the wheat to pop open and get gooey for it to be ready)
3) Meanwhile, put the poppy seeds in a bowl, pour water over them to cover them. Then cover the bowl and leave it stand for about 1 hour. Pour the water out and use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.
4) Put the raisins in a bowl of water, pour boiled water over them, cover and leave for 20 minutes or until they swell. then pour the water out.
5) When wheat is cooked, add honey, ground walnuts, poppy seed and raisins. Serve in a bowl.

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