Posted 7 января 2022,, 13:02

Published 7 января 2022,, 13:02

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

No carols, no nativity scene... How Russian Christmas differs from the Ukrainian

No carols, no nativity scene... How Russian Christmas differs from the Ukrainian

7 января 2022, 13:02
Фото: Фото: Соцсети
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is in no hurry to switch to the Gregorian calendar so as not to lose the cultural and historical traditions of its religious holidays.

The well-known Ukrainian publicist Andrey Okara published an interesting post in which he tried to answer the question: why Christmas became a political problem in his country.

“Somehow suddenly, on December 25, a hype broke out in Ukraine and on Russian federal TV channels on an unexpected occasion.

Namely, regarding the Julian and Gregorian calendars: when exactly should Christmas be celebrated in Ukraine - January 7 or December 25? (More precisely, December 25 to be calculated according to the old or new style?)

And on this issue, the whole "soviet "ness of all post-Soviet communities and societies was focused - both those who pray for the Soviet Union and the" Russian World ", and those who pray that the latter will sink into oblivion, but anti-Bolshevik ideas are promoted mainly by Bolshevik methods. ...

So, supporters of celebrating Christmas (and other church holidays - except Easter) according to the Gregorian calendar (more precisely, according to the New Julian) proceed from the fact that, firstly, this calendar is more accurate than the Julian one. And it is true.

Secondly, in the conditions of the Russian-Ukrainian war and Europeanization, Ukraine should have as little as possible of something that unites with Russia. Up to the expulsion of the seemingly Soviet Father Frost and the betrayal of the Olivier salad with boiled sausage. (It's a pity that no one came up with a creative idea to change the direction of writing in the Ukrainian language: not from left to right, but from right to left - like among Arabs and Jews. Then no one will confuse it with Russia.)

But the question, in fact, is much more complicated than it might seem at first glance.

Separate the sacred from the everyday

So, the first dimension is sacred.

Yes, the Gregorian calendar is more accurate than the Julian one. But the Julian is permeated with complex mystical symbolism.

The Gregorian calendar violates a number of important requirements, the main one of which is: Orthodox Easter should not coincide with the Jewish one or be earlier than it. According to the Julian calendar, the Serbian, Georgian, Jerusalem, Moscow patriarchates, monasteries of St. Mount Athos (which are under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate), as well as Old Believers, Ukrainian Greek Catholics, some ancient Eastern churches and a number of Protestant churches and sects. In 2014, the Polish Orthodox Church returned to the old style (it switched to the new style in 1924 under severe pressure from the Polish state). There are old calendar communities in modern Greece, Bulgaria, Romania. In general, the transition to a new style in the Orthodox world began in the early 1920s - under strong political pressure from the state and was extremely traumatic. Sometimes some Ukrainian adherents of the transition to a new style call Christmas January 7 "Soviet". Although it was in the USSR that the state in 1923 under Patriarch Tikhon forcibly transferred the Orthodox Church to a new style. But this update lasted only a few weeks and was canceled - by the way, under pressure from Orthodox communities from Ukraine and southern Russia.

However, for modern religious people, this is real happiness - to have two relevant calendars: for the secular countdown, and for the sacred. This makes it really easier to distinguish between the sphere of everyday life, in which some ordinary and not always beautiful events happen to us. And a sphere in which everything is different: where Christ is born, baptized, crucified on the cross and resurrected. The functioning of the two calendars - civil and ecclesiastical - only emphasizes this dualism.

Some say - they say, the postponement of Christmas to December 25 will allow not to break the Christmas fast on January 1, on New Year's. But here, too, there are several effective technologies - for those relatively few who hold this post, but dream of getting drunk to the "Irony of Fate" or eating this nasty aspic fish to the songs of Kirkorov and Leps. First, the priests can bless for the relaxation of the fast. Secondly, such an indulgence can be sanctioned at the systemic church-wide level. Although personal observations show that for those who are holding the Christmas fast, abstaining from alcohol and meat on January 1 is not such a tragic self-torture.

Thanks to the efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church, carols in Russia have remained a pagan rite.

The second dimension of the calendar reform is cultural and political.

The fact of the matter is that it is the Nativity of Christ, which is celebrated in both Russia and Ukraine on the same day, January 7, that is one of the most important markers of differences between two countries, two peoples and two cultures. Anyone who has experience of celebrating Christmas both in Russia and in Ukraine will understand without further explanation. Those who do not have it, let them read Gogol's "The Night Before Christmas": nothing of the kind could have appeared on Russian material.

In Russia (except for the places of historical residence of Ukrainians - in the Bryansk, Voronezh regions, in the Kuban and somewhere else, as well as where there are many Ukrainian migrants - in the Far East and Siberia) there are no Christmas carols, no den, no didukh, neither kutya (not from pearl barley), nor everything else. Yes, the Christmas fast is coming to an end, in Orthodox churches there is a solemn divine service, an all-night vigil. And that's all. In addition, church traditions in Russia were undermined by the Soviet regime more than in Ukraine.

By the way, it is on Christmas that ordinary Russian people (more often residents of big cities), as can often be observed, remember their Ukrainian roots or ties with Ukraine - someone has a grandmother, someone has a great-grandfather, someone has a childhood trip and impressions. (For some reason, it is on Christmas that almost everyone has Ukrainian or Belarusian relatives!) Pereyaslavskaya Rada, one of the cultural influences of Ukraine and Belarus on the Muscovy was associated precisely with the Christmas rituals - for example, attempts were made to transfer the Great School Theater and the Nativity Scene to Moscow and Rostov, the Rostov Action of St. Demetrius of Rostov (Tuptal) was staged. But somehow things went wrong. There are a lot of carols in Ukrainian, fewer in Belarusian, and virtually none in Russian. Folklorists say that earlier, until the middle of the 19th century, Great Russia had its own forms of Christmas and New Year's ritual poetry: wild oats in the Volga region and the Center, vineyards in the North of Russia. But what it is, very few people now remember. (It is noteworthy that the boundaries of the distribution of wild oats and grapes almost coincide with the boundaries of the South Russian Akanya and the North Russian Okanya.)

The fundamental difference between Great Russian oats and grapes from Ukrainian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Greek and other carols is that in Russia they remained part of the pre-Christian pagan ritual, part of the agricultural ritual cycle.

In Ukraine and other Orthodox countries (and Catholic ones too), the church has integrated many pagan rituals into the church tradition - first of all, kolyada on Christmas Day, generosity - on the Old New Year (which is on Vasyl and Malanka, i.e. on the day of commemoration of St. Basil the Great and Venerable Melania of Rome).

But in medieval Moscow Russia, the church fought these rituals especially harshly - there was an instruction not to integrate them into church culture, but to completely eradicate them - as a manifestation of paganism. Therefore, even in Alexander Potebnya's extensive collection "Explanation of Little Russian and Related Folk Songs" (1887), there is not a single Great Russian folk poetic text that mentions Christ, the Mother of God, Nicholas the Wonderworker, other saints, Tsar Herod and other Christian characters. In the Great Russian oats and vineyards, ethnographers record only realistic and everyday subjects. Whereas Ukrainian, Belarusian, Romanian-Moldavian carols and chants, on the contrary, are filled with Christian characters.

In Ukraine, the rituals of caroling, generosity and even driving the Goat and Malanka were still alive even during the Soviet era, although they were fought against. And the majority of Ukrainian children earn their first money in their lives with Christmas carols, as well as with generosity and "sprinkling" on the Old New Year.

The transition to the Gregorian calendar leads to the oblivion of Christ

But will all this spiritual and cultural luxury survive the transition to a new style? The transfer of Christmas to December 25, oblivion of the Old New Year - with unique rituals (originating in the Dionysian mysteries!) Of driving the Goat and Malanka, the transfer of Vodokhreshcha with traditional swimming in the ice-hole from January 19 to January 6 is a big question.

There is a suspicion that no, he will not survive.

So the postponement of Christmas to December 25 and, in general, the transition of the church to a new style instead of being different from Russia will lead to the same ascetic despondency as in Russia, or to European church pragmatism, secularism and oblivion of Christ.

However, at the moment in Ukraine, in conditions of fierce competition between the UOC-MP and the OCU, there is hope for the victory of Christian symbolism over post-Christian utilitarianism and pragmatism. The idea of the transition to a new style emerged among some hierarchs of the OCU precisely under the influence of the example of the Ecumenical Patriarchate - they say, it would be good to do in Ukraine the way the Mother Church of Constantinople did in its time. But in this matter, in theory, everything could be exactly the opposite: it is Ukraine in general and the OCU in particular that could actualize for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and for world Orthodoxy the idea of returning to the Julian calendar.

By the way, strangely enough, not everyone in Russia and Eastern Ukraine knows that Ukrainian Greek Catholics, as well as all "Bandera" and Western Ukrainian haters of the USSR and modern Russia, also celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar - January 7th. And from this they do not at all become Russians, Kremlin bots or Putin's admirers. In Austria-Hungary and Poland during the times of Pilsudski, this, among other things, prevented polonization. We have personally heard from many Canadian and American Ukrainians (both Orthodox and Greek Catholics) that for them Christmas on January 7, Old New Year (on Vasyl and Malanka) and Vodokhreshche is what allows them to feel like Ukrainians , do not lose identity, do not turn into an impersonal mass. Christmas on January 7th is called “Ukrainian Christmas”, and the world famous “Shchedryk” has become its symbol.

Well, real Russian people on Orthodox Christmas have the opportunity to join the traditional Orthodox Ukrainian and Belarusian culture, as well as to remember their Ukrainian and Belarusian relatives, if there are any, to re-read Gogol's "Christmas Eve" and listen to one of the four famous operas on this immortal plot (by Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Lysenko, Konstantin Meladze). Well, all, all Christians, not only Orthodox Christians, have the opportunity and even the obligation to remember that it was on this night that God became a man, so that later each of us could become a God.