The greater part of this month was overcome with projects (OK, more like project; my Final Year Project), celebrations (Western Christmas, New Year's Day, my grandmother's 80th birthday, Christmas, Old Style New Year's and most recently, Epiphany), three Tridentine masses and a whole slew of personal problems, mostly related to the dreadful behaviour of some students on campus (more on this later).
I'd like to wish all readers and visitors a very happy New Year!
First, some useless trivia: the month January is named after the Roman god of the doorway, Janus. The name is ultimately derived from the Latin word for door: janua (or ianua for the fussy); January is the door to the year.
Before I begin a recount of January, allow me to begin with the closing days of December: save for the frenzied days of principal photography for my Final Year Project, the last month of 2007 went like a breeze. I visited the new Russian Orthodox chapel, the Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God (it sounds a lot better in Russian), for the first time on the feast of St Nicholas. Despite having a rudimentary knowledge of Russian and familiarity with Slavonic, the experience was wonderful. I have since been attending services there regularly, mainly because it's a lot nearer to my home than my parish.
We had a Christmas dinner sometime during the last week of December (the exact date escapes my mind now - was it the 27th or the 29th?) at my place following the tradition of potluck dinners to celebrate major feast days. The date was chosen since Edward and I both celebrated Christmas in January according to the Julian calendar, while the rest of the guests were Roman Catholics and had already celebrated Christmas some days before.
For starters, we had Romanian tomato salad, followed by a main course of Ukrainian borshch, chicken, gado-gado and a side of bread.
Some cooks consider it a matter of distinction to make a batch of borshch so thick that if you stick a spoon into it, the spoon remains standing.
Ernest, Edward & Estella at dinner.
Dessert consisted of agar agar (jelly) and blueberry ice cream.
Estella baked a Mr Men gingerbread cake/giant cookie.
From left: Edward, Estella, me, Camille, Norman, Patrick & Ernest
New Year's Eve was quite an experience: it was my first away from my family (which would be spent in front of the telly), and also my first at a New Year's Eve party. I won't say too much about how it went. Edward, who invited me, told me it would be a gathering of intellectuals; during which I got hopelessly drunk for the first time in my life, threw up three times and made several telephone calls to people, wishing them a happy new year.
Miraculously, I was sober enough to attend the next morning's Tridentine mass. True, I had a splitting headache for the most part, but I managed to stay awake for its entire duration and engage in conversation after.
I would not be given a reprieve I was so yearning for, as I had to dash off to help in the preparations for my grandmother's 80th birthday almost immediately after mass. She wasn't really born on January 1st, of course. Born in a town in rural China, she was never aware of her actual birth date - January 1st was a date assigned to/chosen by most of these folk migrating to Singapore then since it was easy to remember.
For her 80th, my relatives put on a grand show: they had hired getai performers to sing and dance. A small stage was set up and sumptuous dinner was lavished upon the 100 or so guests. It was a terribly kitschy event, with bright lights, glittery clothing, crude jokes and many songs in my dialect - but it was fun, and dinner (especially the roast pork) was good.
The next few days were occupied by the final stages of principal photography for my Final Year Project, which I am reluctant to elaborate on. Maybe tomorrow.
The most anticipated holiday of that month - Christmas - arrived shortly. It coincided with a class, which I had considered attending; I had discussed this with myself the night before: where would I rather be, stuck in a featureless room for eight hours, attempting to accustom myself to teamwork and then
Bishop Sergey, who officiated at liturgy, gave out Russian chocolate and icons (depicting 6 different Nativity scenes).
Food! All I heard at the table was "Поесть, Костя, поесть!", literally "Eat, Kostya (the Russian diminutive of my name), eat!"
Polya, Vika, Liza & Sonya (not pictured) sang Christmas carols for Bishop Sergey and received presents in return.
Videos to follow.
Post on Epiphany to come soon!
Your Nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom!
For by it, those who worshipped the stars,
Were taught by a Star to adore You,
The Sun of Righteousness,
And to know You, the Orient from on High.
O Lord, glory to You!
Troparion (4th Tone)