Here is my contribution to the LSU Alumni Association Magazine for Spring 2013. View original source here: http://issuu.com/lsualumni/docs/lsuaa_spring2013
Greetings Tiger Nation,
I hope the start of 2013 is fulfilling all of your hopes and dreams! The holiday season in Kyrgyzstan was, strangely, both very familiar and very new.
Bringing in the new year was quite a spectacular series of events. Unlike in America, New Year’s Eve is a formal family affair. Imagine combining Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year all together: Santa Clause (Father Frost) and his grand daughter deliver presents to children on New Years Eve, every house has a New Year’s Tree decorated almost exactly as westerners would expect to find a Christmas tree and at midnight there are fireworks and champaign to bring it all to a close. All of this is celebrated with family; friends rarely get into the mix.
New Year’s Eve started off like a usual day until I heard the sound of a marching band (unheard of around here) passing my window playing Jingle Bells! I looked outside and saw a parade of hundreds of Santas, clowns and city officials. Every year, the mass of characters parades from the main square to city hall where the mayor dishes out presents to the parade participants. Then the parade turns around and returns to the main square where children (mostly orphans and top students) await and are delivered the presents.
At midnight, fireworks abounded. I live only two blocks from the main square so going there to see the fireworks was easy. One major difference was that alongside the city-sponsored fireworks were an equal amount of personal fireworks being set off, which was not entirely safe, but no one seemed hurt in the process.
I have no resolutions to declare as I subscribe to the philosophy of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!” And things so far are going just fine.
January 7th was Orthodox Christmas. I wrangled up about 15 foreign friends and we went to the Bishkek Orthodox Cathedral to observe the holiday service. While I waited for the service to begin, I took in the vast collection of artwork and relics of the church. I also took some time to light a few prayer candles and send up some wishes to a few folks. I lit a candle for my mom, dad, Dezmond Meeks (my best friend and up-and-coming musician) and Alice Suzanne Harrington (newborn daughter of my friends Eddie and Emily Harrington, LSU’06 and LSU’09).
As the main event was about to get started, I met a Russian guy who spoke English and was well-versed in everything related to the church. He was kind enough to stay with us for the duration of the event and explain what was going on. He also gave us the expectation that this would last not less than five hours and we would stand the whole time. Of course this makes me quite appreciative for the 1-hour church services where we get to sit in America!
For more details and photos about both of these holidays, please visit my blog at https://www.judsonlmoore.com where you can also continue to follow my adventure!
Yours In Service & GEAUX TIGERS!
Judson L Moore US Peace Corps 2011-13 Volunteer, Bishkek Kyrgyzstan
Preview my new book now and learn how to:
Just let me know where to send it!