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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Russia Series at RussianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Russian holidays and observances. I’m Jenny, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 16 - St. Nicholas' Day.
Every year on December 19, the Russian Orthodox Church observes the Day of St. Nicholas, or in Russian, (День святого Николая, Den' svyatova Nikalaya), who is one of the most popular saints among the general public. In this lesson, we will go into more detail about this holiday and the way it's celebrated in Russia.
Before we do, though, we’ve got a question for you-
Do you know where the first temple in honor of St. Nicholas was built?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening.
St. Nicholas was a real person who was born in the 3rd century to a fairly affluent family. However, rather than living in affluence, he directed his entire inherited wealth to aid the poor and the needy. The whole life of St. Nicholas was filled with good deeds, love, and caring for his fellow man. He cured people of diseases, consoled them in their grief, and gave a hand to all who needed help.
St. Nicholas is considered the patron saint of travelers and seafarers. From ancient times, sailors and travelers prayed to him to protect them from danger on the road or during a sea voyage. St. Nicholas performed so many miracles that he is also called Nicholas the Miracle-Maker, which in Russian is Николай Чудотворец (Nikalay Chudatvorets). Even today, many people tell stories about the miracles he has performed in answer to prayers for help.
The traditions of celebrating this holiday are being revived little by little in Russia. In many families, parents place small gifts under their kids’ pillows. The most popular gifts are various kinds of candy or teddy toys. The sweet honey buns or cookies given to the children as presents are called николайчики (nikalaychiki)
An icon of St. Nicholas can be found in every Orthodox church or православной церкви in Russian. As a rule, he is depicted with snow-white hair and a beard. They say he was the prototype of the modern-day Santa Claus.
So, coming back to our quiz, do you know where in Russia the first temple in honor of St. Nicholas was built?
According to the testimony of Nestor the Chronicler, who in Russian is known as Нестор Летописец (Nestar Letapisets), the first temple in honor of St. Nicholas was built in the 9th century in Kiev, the present capital of Ukraine, on the grave of the slain Prince Askold.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn something new?
Is St. Nicholas Day celebrated in your country?
Leave a comment at RussianPod101.com, and I’ll see you in the next lesson!

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Is St. Nicholas Day celebrated in your country?