Thursday, 22 December 2011


Sneg is Russian for snow.

Two days ago it began seriously snegging. Until then we had occasional light sneg, often followed by rain and above zero temperatures, which would melt most of it. Now it looks like the sneg is here to stay.
St Basil's this morning
 And just in time for Christmas. The Orthodox Church in Russia uses the Julian calendar, which means they celebrate Christmas on 7 January.  Those of us on the Gregorian calendar celebrate Christmas on 25 December. This is great for expats in Moscow, as we get to celebrate Christmas, New Year and then Christmas again (even better for me as my birthday is also 7 January).

Father Christmas in Russia is a fellow called Ded Moroz (pronounced De-yed - Grandfather Frost). A giant Ded Moroz has recently appeared next to my favourite Christmas tree at Tverskaya Square. Ded Moroz is usually accompanied by his granddaughter, the lovely Snegarochka (Snow Maiden), who has also made an appearance by the tree. She’s a considerable improvement on the unpleasant elf Krampus, who accompanies Santa in some Central European countries.
The charming Snegarochka at Tverskaya Square
 Ded originally wore red and gold, until Stalin decreed he should wear blue, so as not to confuse him with Santa. With the end of the USSR red Deds have been making a comeback and now it seems its Ded who is confused, as I see both red and blue ones.

On another topic I’ve been quite impressed with the rapid response to snow clearing by the Muscovites.  It’s obvious they have done this before. Suddenly there are tractors, front end loaders, bobcats, guys with shovels and nifty little mechanised-broom carts everywhere.
Kamergersky Pereulok (Lane), a fashionable mall not far from Red Square, where I had coffee this morning.

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