Happy New Year again!

Happy New Year! Again?  Seriously, today Russia is celebrating the Old New Year! (No, it's not celebrating a ghost of New Year's Past!) Just like the holiday of the October Socialist Revolution in Soviet times (which was celebrated in November) the Old New Year is another paradox of the Russian calendar. In 1918 Russia switched from the Julian (introduced in the time of Julius Caesar) to the Gregorian calendar (introduced in Catholic countries by Pope Gregory 13th in the 16th century), the difference between them being thirteen days. The Russian Orthodox Church, however, continued to use the Julian calendar and thus the tradition to celebrate Russian Christmas on January 6 and the Old New Year on January 13 lives on. For most Russians it’s just another holiday to celebrate. In fact, the Russian holiday season just isn’t over until the Old New Year, and families keep their Christmas trees at least until then. (Of course, that crazy neighbor who doesn't seem to take down theirs until almost the next Christmas is the same the world over!) But to us it's another true and special blessing, a chance to serve our young people and, even better, a chance to see them pay it forward.

The celebrations of Christmas and the New Year attracted over 300 young people to the Vladimir, Kostroma and Ivanovo Ministry Centers. Preparations included decorating the rooms, cooking festive dinners and rehearsing the entertainment over several days. Our staff and interns were instrumental in organizing the festivities but many others from a growing wave of more active young leaders helped make sure all was ready and that all participants received gifts such as warm blankets, bed sheets, candy and cosmetic items.

Preparing decorations in the Kostroma MC

Дед Мороз и Вредина (стажер Настя)

Ded Moroz (“Father Frost”) leads the celebrations in the Vladimir MC

приготовление салата

Masha’s home cooking, as always, was loved by everyone

ребята из ВХМК с подарками

Everyone loved their gifts

The Christmas spirit certainly filled this holiday season. Our young people shared their blessings with other needy groups in the community. The Vladimir group organized a New Years party at the Home of Invalids where they played with disabled children, talked with seniors and treated them to tea and sweets.

In Kostroma, Ministry Center participants visited the Soligalich orphanage and led discussions about budgeting, free time, the importance of education and moral values. The orphanage kids appreciated hearing about their life experience, especially because some of them grew up in that very orphanage.

Alexey talking with the kids

Leaders from the Kostroma MC visit Soligalich orphanage

волонтерский проект - конкурсы

Games at the Home for Invalids

We at Orphan’s Tree are thankful to you all for helping us provide these gifts to the older orphans in Russia and, most importantly, for these opportunities to see them serving others. We look forward to working together with you in 2013, bringing the older orphans more Hope and opportunities, and watching them continue to join in! Thirteen days later, or thirteen years, Happy New Year to you all, again!