Because Russia is a big place, there are many traditions. It is probably impossible for any one family to follow them all: there are modern traditions, Orthodox religious traditions, Soviet traditions (the bastards), and many pagan traditions that all mix together. It is not uncommon for two neighboring families to have totally different traditions and therefore hate each other passionately.
Today, the Czar would like to welcome you to his dacha where he spends Рождественский сочельник with his family, and give you a sense of what it must be like to spend a festive day with us as a guest.
When you first arrive in Muscovy, you will be delighted at its festive fortification walls used to keep out the Progressives. Piles of bones reflect their unsuccessful attempts to get in. Or these could be the bones of Cutco knife salespeople. It is hard to tell at this point, and frankly it isn't the Czar's job to clean any of this up.
Anyway, as you are a special guest of the Czar, you will have no trouble whatsoever with these walls, and should soon find the gates opening wide.
The big building you see in the center of the picture here is Lansky's Hardware. Their prices are a little higher than we would like, but they always seem to have the bizarre part you need. Oh, and they have really good, inexpensive paint there.
As you arrive, you will see the dacha is delightfully decorated for the holidays by the Царица, who is always excited for the holidays. Yesterday, she spent the day making cookies.
The Czar wishes he could do something about the front lawn, but his old neighbor was terrible at lawn care and let the dandelions and weeds ruin both of our lawns. The Czar hopes his new neighbor will take better care of the lawn so that our lawn can recover. The new neighbor has assured us of this; his name is Doug.
Once inside the gate, you will probably meet the guards. This is what they look like, and yes, the Czar knows they are hardly intimidating. But the fact is they are really good guys, and the Царица has been trying to teach them to read for a number of years now. Some of them are getting fairly respectable at it.
In truth, of course, most of these guys will be sent home for the holiday with whatever might pass for their families. The Czar generally handles dacha defense by himself when he is at home, and uses the guards only when at Castle Gormogon.
And who is at the door to greet you in person but the lovely Царица herself! No, she does not usually carry a scary crossbow. This is another holiday tradition for us: Russians often serve a honey-lentil dish called sochivo on the holidays, and guests sometimes throw a spoonful up in the air: if the sochivo sticks to the ceiling, the guest has good luck all year! The Царица uses the Christmas crossbow to shoot anyone who ruins her expensive ceiling by doing so. Otherwise, she packs a 9mm. Say hi to Царица!
Moving into the side yard, you can see some various implements we use to hang, gibbet, or string up various reprobates in the community.
Please do not let this picture mislead you about what goes on mere yards from the house! Those piles of dirt are not graves, but part of the shooting range. We may be cruel but are not barbaric! Indeed, all those who expire during our sessions are simply dragged off by the guards and left by the curb for trash day. Which reminds us: due to the holiday, trash pickup will be on Friday this week, not Thursday.
The goat you see is not a pet, but is a Muscovy tradition. The goat represents fortune, health, and happiness; its horns symbolize forward thinking, and its white fur symbolizes peace and understanding. Tonight, the Царица will slit its throat, bleed it out, and cook it for us to eat with our bare hands.
You will be staying in the attached cottage. It is beautiful, no? It has a two good-sized bedrooms, a large family room with extra couches, a well-appointed kitchen, and two bathrooms! A person could easily liver here year round.
And indeed, the Czar's aged mother does live here, but because you are company, she will be spending the night outside with the goat. Until we kill and eat her. The goat, that is, not mama. She is too grizzled to eat. We should have done that 40 years ago.
And here is the Czar, happy to greet you. With us is the Царевич, our seven-year-old. Our ten-year-old is the Цесаревич, but he is inside playing Halo 4. The black-robed guys on either side are our loyal okhrana. These are the guys who give us inside information such as our prediction that Israel would attack Iran in 2011 and that Romney would sack Obama in 2012. Yet we keep them around. Here were are reminding them that the Czar might not be around for ever, and that the boys will one day be in charge of them. And that neither boy is nearly as nice and forgiving as the Czar is.
Anyway, someone will bring you over for dinner. We will be eating every conceivable combination of potato, dumpling, onion, cabbage, and meat. For example, you will have meat rolled up in cabbage, potatoes in dumplings, onions and cabbage, potatoes and onions, onions rolled up in meat, potatoes and cabbage, and meat with dumplings. One year, someone brought a fish to dinner and we had no idea what to do with it. One of the boys fed it to a borzoi.
Speaking of which, after you have stuffed yourself sick with great food and the Царица has finished sticking anyone who hurled food onto her ceilings, we enjoy great entertainment. Because the weather is so nice and mild in Muscovy this year, we will adjourn to the backyard to watch serfs try to outrun the borzois. This is largely a traditional event without any real gambling because the fence ensures the borzoi always catch the serfs. It sounds brutal, but let the Czar assure you personally that the borzois never get hurt. We do this until the light gets too dim to see or if we run out of Uzbeks.
After this, we go back into the house and unwrap Christmas presents. You read that right: most Slavs open presents on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas morning. The origin of this is purely practical: you will be too physically sick to leave the bathroom the next morning from the combination of rich, buttery foods and grain alcohol on Christmas Eve. In fact, you will be so ill that you doubt would be able to go more than ten minutes without racing back into the bathroom. And then time for a two-hour Church mass where you will discover you were right.
Anyway, we hope you had great fun spending the day with us. There are other important traditions the Czar left out, including such beautiful and moving ones such as breaking of bread with each member of the party, because they were not funny enough to relate.
Merry Christmas, everyone! See you tomorrow.