Saturday, December 24, 2011

Magic Winter

Do you like snow? If you drive, and your car spends nights in the open air, you probably don't. Indeed, who likes shovelling, cleaning front and rear windows and having no control over the car on an icy road? Yet winter is a beautiful and magical season.

In Russia, people mostly like snow, and drivers are not an exception. The first snow (in my hometown in Siberia, it normally happens in mid October) puts people in the festive spirit. In late autumn, the sky in northern countries is grey, and the sun is a rare guest. White snowflakes reflecting pale winter sunlight give a city the new, lighter look. Snow hides dirty and ugly things and decorates streets and houses.

Sometimes, when it is humid enough, there is “иней” (ee-ney, a hoar frost) in the trees: they are tiny ice crystals that glitter in the sunlight.

Frozen oak tree
Photo by Tatiana Gerus

Icy pictures that suddenly appear in the windows are another natural winter decor. When the frost is relatively mild, about -5C/23F, snowflakes are large and fluffy. They look very beautiful at night, in the warm light of street lamps and neon signs. After a blizzard, when it gets really cold, a view of a bloody red frosty sun and even bluish snow cover catches your breath. Snow, like a sea, looks different in different weather, but it is always beautiful.

P1000679
Photo by ezioman

Besides the aesthetics, there is a pragmatic reason to like snow. Poor road pavement in Russia is an everlasting problem everywhere, except perhaps Moscow. When the thick snow covers roads, they become more even, without pits. Driving in winter in Russia is easier than in summer; just do not press your brakes when a car slides.

People in Russia love winter also because it is a season of holidays. New Year is a time when magic comes to life. The common belief is that the way you spend a New Year Eve is the way you will live the upcoming year. For example, it's a bad omen to argue during the New Year's Eve – it means you will be arguing for the next 12 months. People enjoy the New Year's Eve as much as possible: they cook a lot of food, dress up nicely and try to attract good luck by doing “right” things. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Chinese calendar became very popular in Russia, mostly among ladies, so many women check what colour of their party dress should be, what kind of food is “proper” and so on (I'm not sure if people in China believe all this stuff). There is also a belief that if you put some money in your pocket at midnight, you will have a sufficient amount of money during the year.

I wish you the Merry Christmas and the best of luck in 2012!

Новогодняя инсталляция
Photo by Евгений Антонов