Russian Orthodox Christmas

On anticipation.

You had a little crisis in Asda today. You very nearly broke and started buying holiday food. After all, everybody else was.

But you need to be a bit canny about these things. Your big cooking days are 31st December (Soviet Christmas) and the weekend closest to 7th January (Russian Orthodox Christmas). Buy your ready-made brandy butter now and it will have gone off before you even make it into the New Year.

Theoretically this should be a good thing. You can get presents in the sales and nobody can accuse you of being excessively cheap. You can buy up the half price salmon in Tescos on Boxing Day and not have to salt it away in the freezer  until Easter. That kind of thing.

The problem is that last year you left it too late. By the time you had got back from your parents’ there was nothing worth cooking left in the shops. Gammon to make a ham was in particularly short supply. And woe betide anyone looking for chestnuts on the 27th.

When your holidays only start on the 24th December, there you are, full of the glad tidings of the season ready to bound around the shops picking up your festive bits and bobs, and yet there everybody else has stopped. No more Christmas music. No more bells and snow motifs on TV. No more Santa hats on the supermarket elves. No stocking fillers on the shelves either. Nobody pressing you to a complementary glass of mulled wine. Some places even have the decorations down by the end of the 24th. It’s a real buzz killer.

What’s most irritating is that even though this dissonance is brought about by your family being caught up in trying to celebrate customs from elsewhere, it shouldn’t. It is, after all, only a little longer than the twelve days of Christmas. You are the authentic one.

However, trying to bring Anglo-Saxon capitalism to its knees by the power of your disapproval is clearly not going to work, so you have decided this year to start a bit earlier, even if this does mean that by the time you get to the Star’s yolka* on the 8th you will be twitching of you do catch sight of anything red, green or jingly.

But not until ooooooh tomorrow at least.

*A cross between a pantomime and a nativity, except not really. The Star will be a cockerel. You are quite looking forward to finding out whether this is like scoring the pat of one of the Kings or more equivalent to being third sheep from the left in the school Christmas play.