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Lesson Transcript

Eddie: Hi, my name is Eddie. This is All about Lesson 12 - Important dates in Russia. I am joined by Oksana.
Oksana: Hi, everyone. What exactly are we learning today?
Eddie: Well, today we’re going look at important dates in the Russian calendar, what they are, how they compare to a calendar you may be used to and why these dates are important for Russians and for you!
Oksana: Yes that’s right, these dates will be important for you too so keep listening.
Eddie: It’ll be useful for when travelling to Russia and also it’ll really impress your Russian friends if you show that you know what dates are important for them.
Oksana: What dates are important to you Eddie?
Eddie: Umm... I have a very important date that we should start with. So get out a pencil and paper, an electronic calendar or something and get ready to write it down.
Oksana: What date are you talking about?
Eddie: My birthday of course! You can all make a note of it and send me gifts.
Oksana: Eddie! I think that’s covered in another lesson called “All about Eddie”.
Eddie: Nobody ever subscribes to that one. It’s very disappointing.
Oksana: Shall we go back to talking about Russian dates?
Eddie: Ok, so important Russian dates.
Oksana: Well, holidays are an important part of any culture.
Eddie: Indeed they are, cultural, historical and religious dates. While some dates are the same in many countries, others are totally different or celebrated in a different way.
Oksana: Did you know for example that March the 8th is a very special day for your Russian
girlfriend or wife, and she can be really upset if you ignore it?
Eddie: Or that the 25th of December is just an ordinary day in Russia and people go to work like any other day?
Oksana: These are just a couple of examples of what we’re going to cover in this RussianPod101 podcast.
Eddie: So, let’s start right at the beginning, New Year’s Day.
Oksana: This in Russian is “Новый год”.
Eddie: And is by far the most popular holiday in Russia.
Oksana: It really is. As in the Soviet Union religion was frowned upon, holidays that had a religious connotation, like Christmas, were not officially celebrated.
Eddie: So many Christmas traditions, like decorating the Christmas tree and gifts from Santa Claus for children, have been “transferred” to the New Year celebration.
Oksana: The Russian Santa Claus is called Father Frost, “Дед Мороз”. He’s always accompanied by a young girl called “Снегурочка” which comes from the Russian word, “снег” which is snow.
Eddie: And who is this young girl, a helper?
Oksana: Actually it’s his granddaughter.
Eddie: So New Year is just huge in Russia isn’t it?
Oksana: It so is. It’s simply unheard of for Russians to go to bed early on New Year’s Eve! People usually celebrate New Year’s with their friends and family.
Eddie: And traditionally they cook a big meal with lots of different kinds of salads, small sandwiches and a main dish (most often a roasted chicken). I love it!
Oksana: Of course, they also drink a lot of alcohol, especially champagne and vodka.
Eddie: Of course! A celebration without champagne is like my birthday with no gifts! Just impossible to imagine!
Oksana: I’d better make sure I get you something or you’ll never let me live it down.
Eddie: Can we stick to the subject Oksana?
Oksana: YOU started it actually!
Eddie: You’re right, I’m just trying to shift the blame onto someone else! So, whereas we may have a drink to bring IN the New Year, AFTER midnight, in Russia it’s common to drink a toast for the old year, several minutes before midnight to “say good-bye” to it.
Oksana: That’s very important yes. Then at midnight everyone drinks their first glass of champagne and finally starts eating.
Eddie: I’d be starving by then! The celebrations in Russia easily go on until 3 or 4am and very often even later.
Oksana: That’s why it’s usually very quiet on the New Year’s Day in Russia as everyone’s asleep!
Eddie: Sounds just fabulous.
Oksana: Christmas, “Рождество” in Russian, became an official public holiday again in 1992.
Eddie: It really is a recent thing in relative terms.
Oksana: You might not know that Russian Christmas is not celebrated on the 25th December but two weeks later, on the 7th of January.
Eddie: Yes, and this difference is due to the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church still follows the Julian calendar while the Russian state had switched to the Gregorian calendar.
Oksana: Even though it’s Christmas, in Russia it’s not as widely celebrated as the New Year. Many believers go to church on that day to attend the night service.
Eddie: I guess in the same way that many Western people go to “Midnight Mass” on Christmas Eve.
Oksana: Exactly that, yes.
Eddie: The next important Russian holiday is the International Women’s Day.
Oksana: Now YOU need to make a note of this, Eddie!
Eddie: Already in my diary!
Oksana: In Russian it’s “Международный женский день” and is celebrated on the March 8th.
Eddie: International Women’s Day?
Oksana: Well you’ve made a good point. Even though it’s called “international” it isn’t celebrated much outside Russia and other former Soviet Republics. It’s the day when men need to remember to buy some flowers or a gift for their partner, but it’s also very common to buy flowers or chocolates for female friends, colleagues or teachers.
Eddie: Does that include podcast co-workers too?
Oksana: ESPECIALLY that!
Eddie: So if you send an e-card to your Russian female friends on that day, it’ll be highly appreciated!
Oksana: Children usually make little gifts at school to offer their mothers on that day too, it’s very sweet and a lovely day.
Eddie: What about for men? I’m feeling a bit left out here.
Oksana: Actually, there is also an equivalent of the International Women’s Day for men.
Eddie: What date is that?
Oksana: It’s celebrated on the 23rd of February and is called Defender of the Fatherland Day, “День Защитника Отечества”.
Eddie: Oh yes, I know that one. Officially it honours people who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces.
Oksana:And it’s also common to give a gift to your partner or father on that day no matter if they have any connection with the Army.
Eddie: What about people you do podcasts with?
Oksana: That might be stretching it.
Eddie: I thought so. Still, worth a try!
Oksana: Ok, next is Easter, “Пасха” ends a long period of fasting for religious believers.
Eddie: Yes, on that day Russians traditionally eat eggs that have been painted by hand or dyed by boiling them with onion skins.
Oksana: Other traditional dishes include “кулич”, which is a tall round cake with raisins and sugar glazing. And there’s another called “пасха”, a dish made of sweet cottage cheese and again raisins.
Eddie: The 1st of May is a public holiday in Russia, just like in many other countries. It’s called Spring and Labor Day.
Oksana: In Russian that’s “День Весны и Труда”.
Eddie: In the Soviet time a military parade would usually take place on that day, but now many people just use this extra free day for gardening and doing domestic things.
Oksana: Another important holiday is Victory Day - “День Победы”.
Eddie: Victory Day commemorates the victory over Nazi Germany. Contrary to most European countries where it’s celebrated on the 8th of May, it’s the 9th of May in Russia.
Oksana: Russians consider Victory Day as one of its most important dates.
Eddie: It commemorates those who died in the Second World War and pays tribute to survivors and veterans. Flowers and wreaths are laid on wartime graves and memorials.
Oksana: Also a huge military parade is annually organized in Moscow on Red Square and in all major cities. Orchestras and bands play war time music in the streets of many cities and towns.
Eddie: Very important day indeed to remember those who gave their lives.
Oksana: Yes it is. There are several holidays that are relatively new in Russia.
Eddie: There is Russia Day, which is on the 12th of June. This was established in 1994.
Oksana:Then there’s Unity Day, for November the 4th. This was first celebrated in 2005. Many people think that this was introduced to replace the October Revolution Day, which was celebrated on the 7th of November and used to be the only public holiday in fall.
Eddie: Then after the fall of Communism in the nineties some Western holidays like Valentine’s Day and Halloween were adopted in Russia and became quite popular, particularly among the young.
Oksana: In 2009, Red Square in Moscow was turned into an enormous ice rink to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Eddie: People who skated on the rink that day were given a badge with a number at the entrance and were able to write and receive anonymous love notes. Many famous Russian singers and bands took part in the show too.
Oksana: Yes, it was quite an event.
Eddie: Great, well, that just about covers it for this RussianPod101 podcast. As you can see, some dates are very similar whichever country you’re in, certainly most people celebrate the New Year.
Oksana: And we’ve also covered why some dates are very specific to Russia, their origins and why you need to know about them. When your Russian girlfriend or wife are very touched and think even more of you for making them feel extra special on March 8th.
Eddie: Absolutely! And you can secretly thank RussianPod101.com for that! That just about does it for today. We gonna love you and leave you.
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Eddie: There is also a Basic Feed and Sample Feed, so you can test things out.
Oksana: All right. See you next time, пока!
Eddie: Bye everyone, see you next time!