April 13, 2024

Russian tradition came to Springfield. The second annual Russian Winter Festival took place on Jan. 18 in Hollenbeck. Tasty Russian treats, winter crafts, folk dance lessons and even a bit of red and pea bean fortune telling. It was sponsored by the Language Learners Center and world languages department.

At craft tables with Russian Christmas tunes in the background, prior to the start of the Russian Christmas and New Year’s traditions, many students exchanged familiar greetings in Russian, while a few others had impromptu short lessons for the same. It was a good warm up for things to come.

Sharlotka apple cake, chocolkate kartoshka bites (chocolate truffles), Russian twig cookies, chocolate toffee cake, rum cake, tangerines, various Russian candies, Sbiten (a blackberry honey beverage) and hot Russian style tea dispensed from a genuine soviet era samovar (tea dispenser) were all served. Lila Zaharkov, of the Russian department, who is well known on campus for her homemade Russian dishes, made much of the the bounty which was available to all, however, Mary Zuidema, of the Spanish department, also contributed in a worthy attempt to make a name for herself on this train of confectionary delights.

Zaharkov explained Russian holiday traditions and customs that surround wintertime while the crowd enjoyed the evening’s offerings and watched some unusual Russian music videos by Chum Drum Bedrum.

Zaharkov did a great job talking about the Russian traditions.

Once everyone had their fill of the treats and bean based fortune telling, the craft tables were pushed out of the way to make room for Troika (trio folk) dancing. Several groups of three organized for the dance. Troika are the rhythms and the horse-like steps. Troika dances alternate from a faster to a slower rhythm, and then back again, keeping the routine interesting not only for the dancers, but also for the audience.

Grandfather Frost (Дед Мороз), a distant Russian cousin of Father Christmas and Santa Claus, was certainly there in spirit.

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