Editor loves her different holiday traditions

Every family has its own tradition. My family has always been very different because we are Russian Orthodox.

Growing up I always got out of school for Russian Christmas and Easter. In our religion, we go by a different calendar. Therefore, holidays always fall on different days.

Christmas is always on Jan. 7 and Easter is different every year, just like in the Catholic religion.

We spend Christmas Eve in church. The service used to start at 7:30 p.m. and go until about 1 a.m. Christmas morning. After standing in church for hours, my cousins would eventually show up. They are from out of town, so they would always arrive late. Their arrival always got me and my brother through the rest of the long service.

Once 1 a.m. rolled around and the service ended, we would go back to Baba’s house. My Russian grandmother, also known to us as Baba, would always have delicious food for the next day’s feast that we could start to eat.

Midnight marked the end of our Lent. Not eating meat or dairy products for 40 days would always be a challenge for us. We would always be counting down the days until we could eat whatever we wanted again. The 1 a.m. feast with ham and sausage, along with many other Russian foods, was always worth the long service.

Christmas morning is not centered on gift giving. My family doesn’t give gifts on Jan. 7. Instead, it is all about the food and family. We wake up and eat more of the wonderful food for breakfast. In the afternoon, my cousins, my siblings and I would always stop at McDonalds on the way to “visiting.” There was something about stopping there and getting chicken nuggets and milkshakes that our mom wouldn’t let us have for the past two months that was so demanding that we couldn’t wait.

Before we went to the Christmas evening church service, we always stopped at a few distant family members houses. There would be cookies and cousins we only saw for these few hours twice a year.

Church would only last a half hour, sometimes 45 minutes. When we would arrive back at Baba’s, that’s when the fun began. The smell of turkey would be filling the whole house. Later on in the evening, the feast would begin.

The whole holiday always has meant so much to me. I got to see my cousins who don’t come in town very often. Baba always goes all out for the food and makes it better than Thanksgiving. The best part growing up was getting out of school for Russian Christmas. It has always separated us from everyone else, but I love every bit of it. I don’t think there could ever be a better way to celebrate a holiday.

The only downside of Russian Christmas and being a college student is that I no longer get to miss school.

 

KAT SHINDLEDECKER

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