25 December 2007

Merry Catholic Christmas!

Although the time stamp on this post will say 3:00 p.m., I'm writing at 7:00 a.m. EST on Christmas morning. Merry Catholic Christmas, everyone!

I've been meaning to write for the last few days (and will write something more substantive soon), and the stillness of Christmas morning before the rest of the family is awake (except technically only my younger brother is still asleep - apparently we're all gift gluttons in this family) seemed like a good time to do it.

In my several trans-oceanic(?) flights, I've learned that jet lag from different time zones manifests itself differently: going 8 hours forward to Moscow time may require a long nap or two, but is otherwise not very challenging; the fifteen hour backward jump from the Russian Far East to the eastern U.S. manifests itself through total circadian confusion, normal bedtime and wake-up patterns paired with severe insomnia around 3 a.m.; and the 8-hour backwards hop from Moscow back to Ohio means total narcolepsy that kicks in between 8 and 10 p.m. and a tendency to wake up at 6 in the morning. I don't know why that particular change is so hard, but it's happened to me twice now.

As for "Catholic Christmas," that's what the Russians call our December 25th celebration. Russian Orthodox Christmas, thanks to the same calendar that gave us the October Revolution when the rest of the world had already turned their calendar pages to November, is on January 7th. While researching the history of Christmas trees for my party, I read on the History Channel website that Russians "celebrate Christmas on Epiphany (Twelfth Night)," but that is completely incorrect. Lesson: don't believe everything the History Channel tells you, kids. Anyway, the Bolsheviks changed their calendar to jive with the rest of the world, but the Russian Orthodox Church remained unswayed (they're not so into change - I mean, look at the Great Schism).

So, I don't know why the Catholics get to claim our Western Christmas ("So you're going home for Catholic Christmas, not Orthodox Christmas, right?" "Yes." "Are you Catholic?" "No, Protestant." "Ohh... wait, is Protestant Christmas the same day?"), but I figure it's not my job to correct the Russians. Anyway, my younger brother just came downstairs, so it's stocking time! Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and to those who don't, I hope you can find a radio station that's not playing non-stop Christmas carols (oh, America...).

No comments: