Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 23:33:51
22 September 2018


  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Holiday for Every Occasion

by Irina Bukharin
A Second Russian Holiday Season

1. A blaze of glory seems to be the perfect descriptor for the cathedral-like wooden structure that artists burned to celebrate Maslenitsa, the Russian holiday that kicks off Lent. Every year, artists in the Kaluga region of Russia build a giant structure to burn during Maslenitsa, taking the usual Maslenitsa tradition of burning a scarecrow to the next level. Local Russian Orthodox officials condemned this year’s structure, as they thought it looked like a cathedral. The artists insist that this year’s structure is a castle, not a cathedral, and they successfully explained this to the Russian Orthodox Church. All’s well that ends well, but the lesson stands: if you play with fire, you might get burned.

Photo: Andrey Sharonov

2. The Year of the Dog, Moscow style! This week Moscow rang in Chinese New Year with an exhibition at the GUM state-owned department store. The celebration featured art that drew on both Chinese and Russian traditions: Russian Fabergé eggs and Chinese “blessed eggs,” Chinese Friendlies dolls and Russian Matryoshka dolls … you get the idea. The festivities also included silk painting, Chinese movies, and Chinese dance performances. This is one of many Russian celebrations this month: with Valentine’s Day, Maslenitsa, and International Women’s Day all being celebrated in late winter and early spring, it’s becoming hard to tell when the Russian holiday season ends!

3. A classic feature of Moscow’s landscape will soon disappear forever. No, the Kremlin isn’t being bulldozed, and no, St. Basil’s Cathedral isn’t getting a paint job. This might be even more drastic: banks will no longer be allowed to display currency exchange signs outside of their buildings. This is part of the new rules regulating banks that can make foreign currency transactions, but Russia’s Central Bank has not explained why this particular rule is necessary. But, to be fair, the signs were pretty ugly.

In Odder News:

Photo: Albert Jankowski

  • If there’s still ice, then no dice: St. Petersburg is holding a competition for new methods to remove icicles from rooftops.
  • The future is now: a Moscow apartment is being sold for bitcoin.
  • Russian students got the lay of the (is)land this week when they discovered a new island created by a melting glacier.
Quote of the Week:

“We are a very hungry group of guys… next game will be the biggest one.”

—Ilya Kovalchuk, forward for the Olympic Athletes from Russia hockey team after defeating Norway in the semifinal

Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.

 

Olympians, Titans, and cats dressed up as sailors
Olympians, Titans, and cats dressed up as sailors

The Olympics are under way! With them, new moves in Turkish-Russian relations, a Putin-voiced documentary, and the dangerous force of Russiaphobia. Also cats. 

A kick in the face of public taste
A kick in the face of public taste

This week in Russia saw a whole lot of beatdowns: on international corruption, candy stores, and even Buddha. 

Architecture and unexquisite corpses
Architecture and unexquisite corpses

A church’s domes caving into the altar. A transgender couple finagles a wedding. A hospital patient shares a room with a corpse. Just another TWERF.

Chess, Traffic and Briefcases
Chess, Traffic and Briefcases

In The Weekly Russia File for March 31: some terrible chess puns, and how to stop traffic.

Michael Phelps, Russia's swimming champ
Michael Phelps, Russia's swimming champ

The opening of the Kremlin, the mysterious ways of the nooscope, Hare Krishnas, and why Michael Phelps decided to defect to the Russian Olympic team. 

Tractors, smugglers, and the matryoshka from hell
Tractors, smugglers, and the matryoshka from hell

It's a tough week for transport in Russia, with a tractor parade, a smugglers' road, a bear on the loose, and an unwieldy matryoshka to top it all off.

Corruption, Kalashnikovs, and cultured meats
Corruption, Kalashnikovs, and cultured meats

Performance art turned into meaty meals and politicians turned criminals or corpses. Oh, and Vladimir Putin gets arrested. 

Nomads, salad stampedes, and serious swamp business
Nomads, salad stampedes, and serious swamp business

Olympics featuring dead goats, world records with feta cheese, blood-red rivers, and how to set up your business in a pit of slime.