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The Russian love for holidays is known all over the world.
Russian holidays present a mixture of new and old, religious and secular, professional and private. National holidays reflect multicoloured Russian history.
So, the New Year is the first in calendar and in popularity. Long before December 31 sparkling fir trees appear in the streets, shops, offices and houses, bringing the joy of festive preparations and hope for happy miracles in the coming New Year. It is time to make wishes and presents to all friends and relatives. Children are looking forward for Father Frost (actually he is Grandfather Frost - Ded Moroz in Russian) and his granddaughter Snow Maiden (Snegurochka). to arrive at night and leave presents under the fir-tree.
Russian Christmas comes two weeks later than in other countries, on January 7. This difference is due to the Orthodox Church that follows the Julian (old style) calendar. Christmas merrymaking includes masqueraded visits to neighbours with song singing, round-dancing and playing traditional games. Russian Christmas is rich in beautiful traditions, one of them is called Kolyadki when at Christmas night young people put on fancy dresses, gather in a noisy crowd and go to every house on their way, singing carols and merry songs; hosts of the houses thank singers with all the kinds of sweat stuff like candies, chocolates and pastry. It was a custom for young ladies to tell fortune on these days.
Until recently February 23 that is also called Man’s Day was known as the Soviet Army Day but nowadays it has become a holiday for all men by analogy with the similar Women's Day. All men and boys are congratulated as future defenders and helpmates.
Russian women adore March 8th-International Women’s Day, when attention and care of men is guaranteed because it is traditional for men of all ages to give presents and flowers to women. In Russia it is a day of affection and concord between the sexes.
Maslenitsa (Shrovetide, Pancake week) is a celebration of the sunlight and spring. A century ago Maslenitsa was a merry and widely celebrated holiday similar to the carnival in Western countries; it was a time of games and contests. A big doll of straw was burned as the final act of saying goodbye to the already passed winter. Through the whole week people cooked pancakes (bliny) served with honey, caviar, fresh cream and butter. Nowadays the celebration is not so diversified but people do treat themselves and their guests with tasty pancakes.
Easter is the highest celebration of the Orthodox Church. It is a good time for visiting friends and relatives. People greet each other with words "Christ is risen" and "Indeed risen..." and treat each other with brightly coloured boiled eggs, a symbol of Easter. The holiday table is served with such specialties as paskha (rich mixture of sweetened curds, butter and raisins) and kulich (Easter sweet bread).
Until recently May Day was called International Solidarity Day of Workers but now it is known as Day of Spring and Labour. Some people like following the Soviet tradition of May Day demonstrations with bright banners, balloons and spring flowers.
Russia celebrates Victory Day on May 9 to commemorate the millions fallen in World War II. Flowers and wreaths are laid on wartime graves and veterans come out into the streets wearing their military medals; a solemn military parade takes place on the Red Square in Moscow. In the evening a coloured salute is fired as a token of the victory over fascism.
Task 4. A. Find the English equivalents of Russian words and combinations:
День согласия, соломенное чучело, Христос воскрес, Дед Мороз, Снегурочка, карнавальное платье, рождественские песни, праздничный, ждать с нетерпением.
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