This feels like a real Christmas
On Saturday we decided we should check out Red Square in the evening as we knew that there was a skating rink and Christmas decorations already in place, to see what a Russian Christmas felt like. It also coincided with the start of the annual Russian Christmas Festival in Ploschad Revolyutsii (Revolution Square which adjoins Red Square).
Upon exiting Ohkotny Ryad Metro station it was evident that something was going on in the city. There were scores of armoured policemen and police vehicles hanging around, which we have come to notice in Moscow means there is a crowd gathering somewhere with potential for trouble as usually the police presence is reasonably muted. Anyway we carry on to the market and find a stage at the entry to the area with a good crowd around watching proceedings, we manage to slip through to the front and get to see a real live dancing bear. Now some people, my wife included, abhor this sort of thing with performing animals, but again the kids thought it was great and enjoyed watching the clothed bear, dancing, catching balls and hoops and riding a scooter.
|Molly talking to some "locals"|
From here there are a row of stalls selling typical Russian souvenirs and gifts, although admittedly they aren't all selling the same tacky stuff you usually get at these market places. While it is still only late afternoon we wander through the market and then on into Red Square through the Resurrection gate, which is teeming with people heading into and out of the square along with the usual mix of characters touting for you to have a photograph with them, including a Stalin and a Lenin and one other Communist era figure who I couldn't quite work out.
Getting That Christmas Feeling
Once in the Square you are greeted by GUM shining radiantly, festooned with thousands of lights, in the middle of Red Square is a skating rink complete with cafes, stalls, plenty of bright lights and Christmas music, beyond this is a huge decorated Christmas tree, then on to the ever beautiful St Basil's Cathedral. It is still a little before dark, so we wonder round for a bit then head on up Tverskaya Ulitsa to look for somewhere to have a drink and a snack.
We return to Red Square after dark...... WOW, what a surreal feeling, for the first time in my (adult) life I really felt that Christmas feeling, and as the kids said, it felt like being in a movie. Coming from New Zealand it is always hard to really get that authentic Christmas feeling, sure we love celebrating it in the summer, with BBQ's, swimming and cricket in the back yard, but it just doesn't compare to how it feels in the snow and darkness, like that ideological Christmas that is portrayed in the majority of our Christmas imagery. At least here we don't have to keep the kids up till 9:00pm to take them out and see the Christmas lights, 5:30pm is fine..... The skating rink is full of people sliding around to the tunes of "Santa Claus Baby", and people are everywhere wrapped up in warm jackets, hats and scarves, kids having snow fights, and as an added bonus in the darkness the buildings around the square are lit up beautifully against the darkness. I couldn't think of a better place to enjoy Christmas really, all that was missing was a cup of warm Egg Nog (whatever that really is....)
|Jim with 17th Century Russian Soldiers|
|Red Square at Christmas from St Basil's|
|St Basils - the jewel in Moscow's Crown|