Monday, December 20, 2010
Lighting the Starobelsk Christmas Tree
On Sunday night, 19 December 2010, Starobelsk held its annual lighting of the Christmas tree. People gathered around the huge tree in front of the Cultural Center, visiting, chatting and dancing to the music blaring from the loud speakers. I didn't recognize any of the songs, none of the anthems and songs that we grew up with and associate with Christmas. It's a different tradition here; Christmas Day is 7 January, gift giving is usually on New Year's eve, and the frenzy and commercialism of a prolonged season is much less pronounced.
Icy rain started to fall, and the program began. Some songs, a visit from their Santa, very elegant, and then voila, the tree lit up the night! It was as spectular as seeing the lighting of the White House tree in Washington, DC. I met Nick and some of his friends at the tree. Nick is helping with the design work on my 2011Starobelsk calender, which I've decided to make my "Starobelsk Memories."
After the tree is lit, the tradition is to dance around the tree, so Nick and I joined the circle and went around, laughing and singing in the snowy, icey rain. Nothing could dampen the joy of the moment. The Christmas season in Starobelsk, Ukraine.