Alaskan Russian Orthodox Christmas – Christmas Gifts

Alaskan Russian Orthodox Christmas – Christmas Gifts

Music; Ambience: Russian Orthodox service, choir

This month in and around Anchorage, Alaska, local parishes are observing their own version of Russian Orthodox Christmas, complete with the sharing of communal gifts. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Father Benjamin Peterson is Dean of Saint Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage.

“What’s happened here in Alaska is that the orthodox faith that they received from the Russian’s over 200 years ago has been kind of digested over the centuries. And it’s really come out in some kind of uniquely native forms, but there are some aspects of even the popular customs of even small places in Russia, that have kind of made their way here to Alaska, and I think one of them is starring. It’s a tradition and a custom that comes from the Ukraine where at Christmas time groups of people go from house to house carrying a star, a decorated star, singing “koyatkee” or carols. And somehow this has found its way here to Alaska, and our people also have the same custom but there are various unique local traditions of how they do starring. In some areas they give gifts to everyone that comes to their homes. In other places they give canned food, or preserved food to people that come to their home. One village I heard, they have a custom of – they go in the house and everybody gathers around and they sing – and there’s a $100 taped to the floor and then a whole bunch of frozen food on the top, and when they’re over, everybody dives for it! So there are a lot of different ways that people find to celebrate Christmas here but they’re unique to each village – and it’s a custom that’s really, I would say, highly regarded and precious to them.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.

Alaskan Russian Orthodox Christmas - Christmas Gifts

In rural Alaska, carolers wend their way from house, carrying an ornate star, and sharing in communal gifts.
Air Date:01/17/2008
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Alaskan Russian Orthodox Christmas - Christmas Gifts

Music; Ambience: Russian Orthodox service, choir

This month in and around Anchorage, Alaska, local parishes are observing their own version of Russian Orthodox Christmas, complete with the sharing of communal gifts. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Father Benjamin Peterson is Dean of Saint Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage.

"What's happened here in Alaska is that the orthodox faith that they received from the Russian's over 200 years ago has been kind of digested over the centuries. And it's really come out in some kind of uniquely native forms, but there are some aspects of even the popular customs of even small places in Russia, that have kind of made their way here to Alaska, and I think one of them is starring. It's a tradition and a custom that comes from the Ukraine where at Christmas time groups of people go from house to house carrying a star, a decorated star, singing "koyatkee" or carols. And somehow this has found its way here to Alaska, and our people also have the same custom but there are various unique local traditions of how they do starring. In some areas they give gifts to everyone that comes to their homes. In other places they give canned food, or preserved food to people that come to their home. One village I heard, they have a custom of - they go in the house and everybody gathers around and they sing - and there's a $100 taped to the floor and then a whole bunch of frozen food on the top, and when they're over, everybody dives for it! So there are a lot of different ways that people find to celebrate Christmas here but they're unique to each village - and it's a custom that's really, I would say, highly regarded and precious to them."

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I'm Jim Metzner.