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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 18 - Pentecost.
In this lesson, we will take a look at one of the main Orthodox holidays in Russia, called Trinity Sunday, or in Russian, День святой Троицы (Den' svyatoy Troitsy). This is the day on which it's said that the Holy Spirit, which in Russian is Святой дух (Svyatoy dukh), descended upon the Apostles. Trinity Sunday is observed every year on the fiftieth day after Easter, which is why it's also often called “Pentecost.”
Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you-
What tree do the Orthodox Christians in Russia consider a symbol of the Trinity?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening.
According to the Bible, Jesus Christ appeared before his disciples, the apostles, for forty days after his Resurrection, which in Russian is referred to as Воскрешение (Vaskresheniya). On the last day, while bidding them farewell, Jesus promised to send them a Comforter – the Holy Spirit. That day, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles in the forms of fiery tongues, and they began praising God in various languages they did not know until then.
Nowadays, the traditions of celebrating this holy occasion in Russia are being revived. Early in the morning, Orthodox Christians attend a festive church service. Churches and homes are customarily decorated with greenery – grass, flowers, and tree branches. Such greenery is a common symbol of life, and in this way, the people thank God for giving them a new life through baptism. It's believed that after being blessed in church, the bouquets of flowers and branches used in these ceremonies receive curative powers.
For Trinity Sunday, people usually prepare various egg-based dishes, making crepes, or блины (bliny) as they’re known in Russian, as well as stuffed buns, called пирожки (pirashki), and kissel. On this day, many people visit their families, and some consciously seek out and spend time among nature. Many cities hold folk festivities with concerts, competitions, and performances.
Traditionally, on Trinity Sunday, people should not engage in physical labor like doing laundry, tidying up, sewing, or any other work except feeding and watering pets and livestock.
So, returning to our quiz, what tree do Orthodox Christians in Russia consider to be the symbol of the Trinity?
The answer is the birch tree, or in Russian береза (beryoza). The birch has been the symbol of Russia since ancient times, and many folk beliefs, proverbs, and sayings are connected to it.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn something new?
Is Trinity Sunday celebrated in your country?
Leave a comment at RussianPod101.com, and I’ll see you in the next lesson!