I live in Vienna. Christmas markets open here in mid-November. On the main square near the Parliament they make ice skating rink. And everybody knows and waits – Christmas is coming. One month before the Austrians start to light one candle each Sunday on a Christmas wreath (Adventskranz). Everywhere you can buy a calendar with small windows for each day until the sacred date, with piece of chocolate inside of each.
On the 26th of December the Austrians will close all markets and the streets will be empty. But for me of course since my childhood the main holiday is New year! Preparing Russian salad and buying mandarins. To go to Russia where the snow and my relatives, or to stay in Vienna where they will sell different kind of pigs souvenirs (the Austrians believe it brings happiness in New Year)? By the way, in Austria the 31st of December is rather St. Sylvester’s day, than New Year. So, you will be congratulated with St. Sylvester! Or we may also go to France where to December 31st all gifts will be already given by Père Noël, no magic left, no full table of salads and no even Putin on TV. Just you do not sleep at night before New Year. Marc’s father will buy oysters and will open old bottle of wine or champagne to please us. At the same time far in Sydney there are fireworks over Harbour bridge and Opera House. And summer.
When in January all holidays seems like are already passed, there is orthodox Christmas. Time for fortune telling. And I miss snow and our bathhouse. The Russians say you can stick out your bare leg for a few second and be touched by goblin. By the nature of a touch your future may be predicted. Or to throw your boot over the fence and go watch in what direction it lies. Your future lover will come from there. In which side is France, you say?
That’s funny. Probably the soul wishes a holiday. Always. A colleague from Iran in March (!) told us, that it was New Year in her country. Day of vernal equinox. Year 1396. As usually my friend congrats me in February with Chinese New Year. Thanks to her, she works with Chinese and speaks Chinese, I never miss it!
On the 8th of March, Marc will bring me flowers. He does not like to give me flowers on birthday, but Women’s day is different. Just sometimes I am better to remind him it is coming soooooooon. In the same time I am wondering each year whether to give him a gift on February 23th. Officially Defender of the Motherland Day mostly celebrated in Russia like Men’s day. In France, the army is contracted only. And what to understand by the Motherland? In Russia he had his gift at work from female colleagues always, and from me sometimes. But what if we are not in Russia?
January 25th is St. Tatiana’s day. Since my childhood I used to get little gifts. When I was a small girl, my great-grandmother, she was also Tatiana, lived with us. That time she was in her yearly 90’s, nobody knew exact date of her birth (as in 1918 calendar Russia switched from Julian to Gregorian calendar) and since in was also in January all our relatives came to congratulate her on Tatiana’s day. And me as well since I lived nearby. My sister always asked our parents when it is st. Mary’s day to celebrate her st. angel day also. This day is also known as Students day (st. Tatiana church is located on the territory of Moscow State University). That is why in both Universities I studied classmates always congratulated me as well.
And I marked in the calendar – April 25th is St. Marc’s day. I have an idea this day to go to Venice with Marc. He likes this day even maybe more than I like January 25th. Usually no-one remembers about this day of course. But there on St. Marc square everybody will celebrate.
Here in Austria they celebrate all Catholic holidays. In a lot of cases you just know the official holiday is coming (not working day), but what it is dedicated to. Oh, you do not know? St. Leopold’s day (November 15th, in Vienna only), the Assumption of Mary (August 15th), Corpus Christi (“Fronleichnam” in German, celebrated on the second Thursday after Whitsun), Immaculate Conception (December 8th), Stephen’s Day (December 26th). So many holidays to celebrate or simply do not go at work in our reality. Maybe one day we will go to somewhere let’s say to GOA and we will learn how and when to celebrate Indian holidays. Once Marc and me faced the Festival of colors (Holi) in the center of Moscow. It was funny. We were all in paint. And ruined some clothes, including underwear in my case. One grandma in subway was shocked when we were going back home. She was like «What the beautiful young couple, and so dirty!». Oh, crazy! But to be honest bright paint in half an hour on the body really becomes dirt.
I really want to go to Armenia when they celebrate there this holiday when you need to pour water on everyone on the street. Or this holiday in Spain when throwing tomatoes to each other. This is definitely places where you cannot mess it up. Imagine you leave home to go at work and receive a bucket of water on your head or a tomato in your face.
Which holidays else? A friend living in USA sends greetings on Thanksgiving. Halloween is already everywhere. This year on Halloween, Marc texted me from home asking to buy candies on the way back. Children came, and we did not expect it at all. I had no idea they practiced this tradition in Vienna as well.
And all this kind of unexpected and strange holidays when I do not know what to do. For instance French Bastille Day (La Fête Nationale, July 14th). Em… Liberté, égalité, fraternité, chérie?
You know what? Let’s live in the world without boarders! And it will be a holiday every day. Not without incident, of course. Once my friend invited our common German friend to come to Russia, advising to come in May when the weather is warm and we have holidays. «What you celebrate?» she asked. Emmm, Victory day?