Dec 15, 2009

Russian Christmas



Thirteen days after Western Christmas, on January 7th, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates its Christmas, in accordance with the old Julian calendar. It's a day of both solemn ritual and joyous celebration


After the 1917 Revolution, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations. It wasn't until 75 years later, in 1992, that the holiday was openly observed. Today, it's once again celebrated in grand fashion, with the faithful participating in an all-night Mass in incense-filled Cathedrals amidst the company of the painted icons of Saints.


Christmas is one of the most joyous traditions for the celebration of Eve comes from the Russian tradition. On the Eve of Christmas, it is traditional for all family members to gather to share a special meal. The various foods and customs surrounding this meal differed in Holy Russia from village to village and from family to family, but certain aspects remained the same.


An old Russian tradition, whose roots are in the Orthodox faith, is the Christmas Eve fast and meal. The fast, typically, lasts until after the evening worship service or until the first star appears. The dinner that follows is very much a celebration, although, meat is not permitted. Kutya (kutia), a type of porridge, is the primary dish. It is very symbolic with its ingredients being various grains for hope and honey and poppy seed for happiness and peace.

Once the first star has appeared in the sky, the festivities begin. Although all of the food served is strictly Lenten, it is served in an unusually festive and anticipatory manner and style. The Russians call this meal: "The Holy Supper." The family gathers around the table to honor the coming Christ Child. A white table-cloth, symbolic of Christ's swaddling clothes, covers the Table. Hay is brought forth as a reminder of the poverty of the Cave where Jesus was born. A tall white candle is place in the center of the Table, symbolic of Christ "the Light of the World." A large round loaf of Lenten bread, "pagach," symbolic of Christ the Bread of Life, is placed next to the Candle.

The meal begins with the Lord's Prayer, led by the father of the family. A prayer of thanksgiving for all the blessings of the past year is said and then prayers for the good things in the coming year are offered. The head of the family greets those present with the traditional Christmas greeting: "Christ is Born!" The family members respond: "Glorify Him!" The Mother of the family blesses each person present with honey in the form of a cross on each forehead, saying: "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, may you have sweetness and many good things in life and in the new year." Following this, everyone partakes of the bread, dipping it first in honey and then in chopped garlic. Honey is symbolic of the sweetness of life, and garlic of the bitterness. The "Holy Supper" is then eaten (see below for details). After dinner, no dishes are washed and the Christmas presents are opened. Then the family goes to Church, coming home between 2 and 3 am. On the Feast of the Nativity, neighbors and family members visit each other, going from house to house , eating, drinking and singing Christmas Carols all the day long.

The "Holy Supper"


Christmas Eve dinner is meatless but festive. The most important ingredient is a special porridge called kutya. It is made of wheatberries or other grains which symbolize hope and immortality, and honey and poppy seeds which ensure happiness, success, and untroubled rest. A ceremony involving the blessing of the home is frequently observed. The kutya is eaten from a common dish to symbolize unity. Some families used to throw a spoonful of kutya up to the ceiling. According to tradition, if the kutya stuck, there would be a plentiful honey harvest.


Traditionally, the "Holy Supper" consists of 12 different foods, symbolic of the 12 Apostles. Although there was also some variation in the foods from place to place and village to village, the following is a good summary of what was typically served. The twelve foods are:

1) Mushroom soup with zaprashka; this is often replaced with Sauerkraut soup

2) Lenten bread ("pagach")

3) Grated garlic

4) Bowl of honey

5) Baked cod

6) Fresh Apricots, Oranges, Figs and Dates

7) Nuts

8) Kidney beans (slow cooked all day) seasoned with shredded potatoes, lots of garlic, salt and pepper to taste

9) Peas

10) Parsley Potatoes (boiled new potatoes with chopped parsley and margarine)

11) Bobal'ki (small biscuits combined with sauerkraut or poppyseed with honey)

12) Red Wine


It was once common practice, on Christmas Eve, for groups of people masquerading as manger animals to travel from house to house, having themselves a rousing good time, and singing songs known as kolyadki . Some kolyadki were pastoral carols to the baby Jesus, while others were homages to the ancient solar goddess Kolyada, who brings the lengthening days of sunlight through the winter. In return for their songs, the singers were offered food and coins, which they gladly accepted, moving on to the next home.

Ded Moroz and yolka


The origin of Santa Claus is in St. Nicholas. He was born in Asia Minor at at the Greco-Roman city of of Myra in the province of Lycia, at a time when the region was entirely Greek in origin. Due to the suppression of religion during the Soviet regime, St. Nicholas was replaced by Ded Moroz or Grandfather Frost, the Russian Spirit of Winter who brought gifts on New Year's. He is accompanied by Snyegurochka, the Snowmaiden, who helps distribute the gifts.


The Christmas tree (Yolka) is yet another tradition banned during the Soviet era.To keep the custom alive, people decorated New Year's trees, instead. Since ornaments were either very costly or unavailable, family trees were trimmed with homemade decorations and fruit. Yolka comes from the word which refers to a fir tree. The custom of decorating Christmas trees was introduced to Russia by Peter the Great, after he visited Europe during the 1700's.

Why January 7?



In ancient times, many, mostly unreliable methods had been used to calculate the dates according to either the lunar or solar cycles. By Roman times, the calendar had become three months out with the seasons, so in 46 BC, Julius Caesar commissioned the astronomer, Sosigenes to devise a more reliable method. This, we know as the Julian Calendar and was used widely for 1500 years. The month of his birth, Caesar had named Quintilis, but the Roman Senate later re-named it Julius (July) in his honour. In those days, February had 30 days every 4 years.


However, this calendar was still 11 minutes and 14 seconds longer than the solar year, so that by the year 1580, the calendar had accumulated 10 days off again. In 1582, therefore, Pope Gregory XIII corrected the difference between the sun and calendar by ordering 10 days dropped from October, the month with the least Roman Catholic Feast days. His calendar, we know as the Gregorian Calendar, which is used in almost all of the world today. Pope Gregory made further changes to keep the calendar in line, which on average is only 26.3 seconds longer than the solar year. The Gregorian Calendar is so accurate that it will take until the year 4316 to gain a whole day on the sun.

That year, 1582, October 5th became October 15th and was immediately adopted in most Roman Catholic nations of Europe. Various German states kept the Julian Calendar until 1700. Britain and the American Colonies didn't change until 1752, but Russia and Turkey did not adopt the Gregorian Calendar until the early 1900's.

So, January 7th by the Georgian Calendar would have been December 25th by the old Julian Calendar and is therefore why it is still Christmas Day for the Russian Orthodox Church. Many Russians will have celebrated along with the rest of us and will then celebrate again on the Orthodox date.

Speacility with Number 7

7 (Seven) In religions

Christianity


Seven Days of Creation - 1765 book

The number seven (7) in the seven days of Creation is typological and the number seven appears commonly elsewhere in the Bible. These include:

* Seven days of Creation (Genesis 1). God rested on and sanctified the seventh day (Sabbath)
* Seven years of plenty and seven years of famine in Pharaoh's dream (Genesis 41)
* Seven days of the feast of Passover (Exodus 13:3-10)
* Seven day week and the pattern concerning distribution and use of manna (Exodus 16)
* Seven year cycle around the years of Jubilee (Leviticus 25)
* The fall of the walls of Jericho on the seventh day after marching around the city seven times(Joshua 6)
* Seven things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19)
* Seven loaves multiplied into seven baskets of surplus (Matthew 15:32-37)
* The Seven last words (or seven last sayings) of Jesus on the cross.
* Seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom (Acts 6:3)
* Seven Spirits of God are mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
* Seven churches of Asia to which the "Book of Revelation" is addressed.
* Seven churches, seven stars, seven seals, seven last plagues, seven vials or bowls, seven thunders in the Revelation, the last book of the Bible.

Other sevens in Christian knowledge and practice include:

* The Seven Sacraments in the Catholic faith (though some traditions assign a different number).
* Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
* The Seven Joys of the Virgin Mary, of Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other traditions.
* The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, of Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other traditions.
* The Seven Corporal Acts of Mercy and Seven Spiritual Acts of Mercy of Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other traditions.
* The Seven Virtues: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, kindness, patience, and humility
* The Seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.
* The seven terraces of Mount Purgatory (one per deadly sin).
* In the genealogy in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is 77th in a direct line.
* The number of heads of the three beasts (7 × 10 × 7 + 7 × 10 × 10 + 7 × 10 = 1260) of the Book of Revelation, and of some other monsters, like the hydra and the number of seals.
* In the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew 18:21, Jesus says to Peter to forgive seventy times seven times.[6]
* There are seven suicides mentioned in the Bible (OT and NT)[7]

Hinduism

* The Sanskrit word 'sapta' refers to number seven.
* The Indian Music has 'sapta swaras', means seven octats (sa re gan MA pa dha ni), which are basics of music, using which hundreds of Ragas are composed.
* Celestial group of seven stars are named as 'Sapta Rishi' based on the seven great saints.
* Seven Promises, Seven Rounds in Hindu Wedding and Seven Reincarnation
* As per Hindu mythology, there are seven worlds in the universe, seven seas in the world and seven Rishies (seven gurus) called sapta rishis.
* Seven hills at tirumala also known as ezhu malaiyan means Sevenhills god
* There are 7 Chakras.

Islam

* The number of ayat in surat al-Fatiha.
* The number of heavens in Islamic tradition.
* The number of levels of Earth in Islamic tradition.
* The number of circumambulations (Tawaf) that are made around the Kaaba
* The number of walks between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah mountains -that is travelling back and forth- seven times during the ritual pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah.
* The number of fires in hell. i.e the 7 fires of hell.
* The number of doors to hell is also seven.

Judaism

The Menorah is a 7-branched candelabrum

* A highly symbolic number in the Torah, alluding to the infusion of spirituality and Godliness into the creation. For example:
o God rested on and sanctified the seventh day (Shabbat). – Genesis 2:3. "Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars." – Proverbs of Solomon son of David King of Israel 9:1
o A seven-day purification period is required for one who has become tamei to become tahor.
o The Shmita (Sabbatical) year arrives every seventh year.
o The Jubilee (Yovel) year comes after 7 times 7 years.
o The Counting of the Omer leading up to the Giving of the Torah is expressed as "7 times 7 weeks."
o There are 7 days of Passover and Sukkot when celebrated in Israel.
o Shiv`a (another pronunciation of the Hebrew word for 7—(Hebrew: שבעה ; "seven")), is the number of days of mourning. Hence, one sits Shiva. As in Shiva (Judaism)
* The weekly Torah portion is divided into seven aliyahs, and seven Jewish men (or boys over the age of 13 who are considered men; Bar Mitzvah) are called up for the reading of these aliyahs during Shabbat morning services.
* Seven blessings are recited under the chuppah during a Jewish wedding ceremony.
* A Jewish bride and groom are feted with seven days of festive meals after their wedding, known as Sheva Berachot ("Seven Blessings").
* The number of Ushpizzin (also known as the "Seven Shepherds") who visit the sukkah during the holiday of Sukkot: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David.
* The number of nations God told the Israelites they would displace when they entered the land of Israel (Deut. 7:1): the Hittite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
* In Breslov tradition, the seven orifices of the face (2 eyes, 2 nostrils, 2 ears, and the mouth) are called "The Seven Candles."
* The Menorah (Hebrew: מנורה), is a seven-branched candelabrum lit by olive oil in the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem. The menorah is one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish people. It is said to symbolize the Burning bush as seen by Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 25).
* The number of times Cain will be avenged by God if he is murdered (Gen 4:15).
* The Israelites circled Jericho for 7 days and then the wall tumbled down.

How December 25th Became Christmas





On December 25th of every year the entire Christian world comes together, putting aside petty quarrels and minor differences, to commemorate the birth of Jesus. (Well, most of us come together anyway).

The Orthodox Churches have it on different days because of some sort of disagreement over Gregorian calendars. And there are a few Christian groups around who don't celebrate it at all (too material, I guess).

In any case; on December 25th most of the Christians that I know celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ -- very likely the holiest event ever to take place anywhere on the Earth, and an entirely worthy occasion to celebrate. But don't you ever wonder if we've got anything about it right? Is it even on the right date?

~ Complex Answers to Simple Questions ~


Don't bet the farm.


First off, they didn't exactly keep birth records of the common folk in 0 or 1 or 2 AD (not to say that Jesus was common, but… well, you know the story.) Secondly, even if they did, there's the problem of leap year. Every four years the powers that be add an extra day to compensate for a less than perfect rotation of the earth. The Romans even didn't know about that, convoluting time and calendars even more.


Plus some people back then used a lunar calendar and some used the solar version that we use today. Finally, the authors of the Gospels (Mathew and Luke particularly) either didn't know or didn't think it was important enough to mention the date of Jesus' birth. Who even knows if they recognized birthdays in ancient Judea?

The bottom line is that nobody knows the exact date of Jesus' birth, but the smart money is betting that it was sometime in early spring. There's some historical data, but the best hint is that famous story about shepherds tending their flocks by night. Shepherds tend to only stay up with the sheep during lambing season, and lambing season is in spring. But since no one knows, you might as well go along with the spirit of the season and enjoy all the cheer and good will towards men.

~ Hat Tricks ~


There is, however, some interesting history to the day we choose to remember the birth of the Christ child. It's not just some random date that somebody pulled out of a hat you know.


There have been festivals of every sort around the winter solstice going back to the Babylonians. But it was the Roman Emperor Aurelian who fixed the actual date. He called December 25th "The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun", and put it right in the middle of the feast of Saturnalia. (The Romans really knew how to have a feast: Saturnalia lasted a week.)

This was a always a time a great merry making there were big dinners, halls bedecked with laurels and green trees, people carrying lighted candles through the streets, and the giving of gifts was a common practice. In fact, you might say that the Christmas spirit is really the spirit of Saturnalia passed on over time.

~ Enter the Christians ~


The Christians, in the meantime, were having the "Mass of Christ" at various times and places. This wasn't a commemoration of the birth of Jesus so much as it was a time to reflect on His life and acts. So, when Constantine made Christianity the religion of Rome, the Catholics needed a way to convert the pagans running around the streets of Rome with their candles and presents to Christian practices.


One imagines it went a little something like this: "You have an unconquered sun, we have an unconquered Son. You give gifts -- we have wise men bringing gifts. You have bonfires and lamps and candles -- we have a new star. It's not really all that hard put the two together." Or something like that.

So the date of Christmas became the 25th, the pagans became Christians, and everybody got a day to celebrate selflessness, joy, and light.




This article appears courtesy of The Merry Syndicate at www.mymerrychristmas.com with our best wishes for a warm and merry holiday season.

Drinking water habits basics



Get your drinking water habits basics right..


Correct timing to drink water, will maximize its effectiveness on the Human body.

Two (02) glass of water - After waking up - Helps activate internal organs
One (01) glasses of water - 30 minutes before meal - Help digestion
One (01) glass of water - Before taking a bath - Helps lower blood pressure
--> One (01) glass of water - Before sleep - To avoid stroke or heart attack

Why does Love Hurt so much?

Why does Love Hurt so much?



Love hurts so much because we allow it to hurt. It's human nature. Getting hurt is a part of life. It's how you handle the hurt or how you allow it to affect you. When two people are in a relationship there are good times and bad times being in a relationship is a great feeling.

Knowing that you have a person that loves you is such a wonderful thing. But sometimes people put to much faith in other people and then when that person doesn't live up to the other person's expectations then there are a huge amount of disappointment and hurt. Why do we allow other people to control our emotions?


A broken heart really is one of the worst feelings in the world. When you find out somebody that you love, somebody that you gave such a huge part of yourself to betrayed you, is indescribable. You feel this pain in the middle of your chest and it literally just aches. It hurts oh so bad! And then the tears and crying set in. opinion you do need to allow yourself to grieve. You need to accept everything that has happened and then you just need to look inside yourself to find the courage and strength needed to move on. This is so much easier said than done. It is a part of life. One thing we have to learn is when one door closes three more usually open.


Everything happens for a reason. You must be strong and simply commit to yourself.