Down at the Christmas Fair

I stumbled upon a “Christmas Fair” (Рождественская Ярмарка) today in front of the Aleksandrinsky Theater.  Which was surprising for a country that has always celebrated the New Year for weeks on end but generally neglected Christmas.  Highlights included a skating rink, Christmas Tree Bazaar (Ёлочная Базар), and the “Mini poezd” (Мини Поезд, literally, “mini train”), a carnival ride.  It was of course broken, but otherwise the kiddies could have ridden in circles while pops primes the pump with some piping hot honey liquor (medavukha).

Two random side notes: Rollercoasters in Russian are known as “Amerikanskiy gorki,” or “American hills.”

And before vodka — a Polish invention by most accounts — made its way to Russia, Russians drank mainly honey mead-style liquors like medavukha.  Even after its introduction, vodka was drunk only on holidays up until the point that Catherine the Great relaxed the laws on vodka production.  Prices fell, drinking establishments fluorished and drunkenness became a problem due to the drink-’til-you-drop mentality that held over from the time when vodka was only consumed in drinking contests at weddings, where last man standing was the “Vodka King.”

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