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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Celebrating Christmas in a Culturally Blended Family. Masha Holl's, The Joining.

Happy December 1st! Welcome to A Writer’s Mind’s, WHAT EVERY WOMAN WANTS BENEATH HER CHRISTMAS TREE blog event. It’s my pleasure to welcome over author Masha Holl to share a little bit of her unique holiday with us. Don’t forget to comment for a chance to win an eCopy of Masha’s story, The Joining.

YULETIDE NOTE: I encourage you to leave a comment for a chance to win each featured author's given prize (Include email addy). Their individual winners will be announced in a comment after their post. In addition, be sure to enter the Rafflecopter provided after each post as often as you like for a chance to win the grand prize, three $30 Amazon Gift Cards, 12+ ebooks and over six print novels. Three winners drawn and announced December 26th, 2012. Click on 'Ready to be Served?' at the top of this blog to find the itinerary.

Let’s hear from Masha…

Christmas is not a simple matter, especially in a culturally blended family. It can be complicated enough, even these days, when Old World and New World mix and we try to recreate childhood recipes and experiences for the next generation. But when East and West collide it gets really interesting.



And I don’t mean the farthest East – as in Asia, but merely Eastern Europe, Eastern Christianity, and their own traditions. And Western Europe, namely Germanic and Anglo-Saxon, because those are the ones that prevail in the United States.

There was a time when it was indeed simple: my family gathered on Christmas day, and I had no questions and no doubts as to what that day was, or what we would do. We had a tree all set up at home, with bright decorations and lights. There was Christmas Vespers (because there’s no Midnight service on Christmas in the Eastern Orthodox Church), and then all my brothers and sisters (and then their wives and husbands, and later all my nephews and nieces) would trickle into our home. There would be food, of the Lenten kind – no meat, but lots of fish dishes, and salads, and bread, because Christmas Eve was still a fasting day and no animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) were eaten. There would, however, be wine and cheer and jokes, and loud celebration with many rounds of toasts to everyone’s health, including absent friends and relatives living in Russia.

Then there would be dessert, including the three poppy-seed sweets I still associate with Christmas: the rolled poppyseed bread, the bite-size rolls soaked in a poppyseed, nuts,  and honey sauce, and kut’ia, the traditional southern-Russian dish served only on Christmas Eve, Epiphany, and at wakes. It’s a sweet dish made of  boiled wheat, nuts, raisins, and a poppyseed and honey sauce.

Yes, my childhood Christmas was a sweet poppyseed time.

Dessert was also the time to open the presents. As far back as I can remember, there were presents that came from specific members of the family, and then there were presents “from Santa” (or rather from “Grandfather Frost” – Ded Moroz). These were often the biggest and best ones, and no one ever admitted to providing them (and I never did manage to see who put them under the tree), even long after I ceased to believe in supernatural gift-givers.

And it didn’t matter at all that we were 13 days behind the rest of the country, that they were celebrating Epiphany and the visitation of the Three Kings. We were on Orthodox time and it was Christmas time for us, on January 7.

Now that I’ve crossed the Ocean, like a Pilgrim, and put down roots in the New World, I still manage to have a bit of a poppyseed Christmas, but my celebration has doubled. I married a Westerner who celebrates Christmas with the Western world, on December 25th. We have our big tree, and our presents, and our family gathered around grinning and opening our presents first thing on Christmas morning – even the dog gets a new toy to gnaw on, so he doesn’t get tempted to pounce on new human toys.

But on January 7th, we still have our tree up, and we still celebrate Russian Christmas, well aware that all our Russian relatives are gathered in their own homes, probably not all together anymore now that my grandparents are gone, but with ever-expanding families. 

Masha, fascinating post! Honestly, I learned a lot from it. For starters, I had no idea Russian Christmas was on January 7th! Thank you so much for sharing with us. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas… or two. :-)

THE JOINING

Erik has no memories that go back more than five years, and no one knows how he's lost them. No memories, no prejudices, and an empathic ability. It makes him the perfect diplomat for the Space Guild. But when the alien woman he saves from an explosion in space opens a crack in his past, she may also hand him a key to a new future.

Purchase The Joining at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Visit Masha at her Website and http://ottercreations.com

Don't forget to comment for a chance to win The Joining. After that, be sure to enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win even more!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c587a91/

4 comments:

Alisha said...

Christmas sounds like a wonderful time around your home, Masha! What a beautiful blending of traditions. I love poppy seeds! Those desserts sound delicious! I hope you and yours have a great Christmas, on December 25th and January 7th! Hugs!

Hywela Lyn said...

What a fascinating post, I learnt so much from it, and it sounds like a wonderful way to spend a childhood (or adult) Christmas. (I've read 'The Joining' by the way, and loved it!)

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas!

Cathy McElhaney said...

Sounds like a wonderful Christmas time! I cant imagine moving to a new country and all the changes you would encounter!
Have a very merry Christmas whenever you celebrate!

Sky Purington said...

Thanks for swinging by, ladies! :-)