Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7th.
The Gregorian calendar was adopted by Russia in 1918, following the Revolution. The Julian/Old Style calendar is 13 weeks behind the Gregorian. For this reason Russian Christmas is celebrated later than in the Catholic tradition, moved forward by 13 days to accommodate the Gregorian calendar reform.
On January 7th, 2001, I was taken to see the “Story of the Nativity” for children under 15. The actors were running late, and “Jesus” walked out on stage with a red ball, to entertain the young audience. He started throwing the ball into the audience, and the children threw it back. “Whoever catches that ball will be blessed with good fortune this year!” “Jesus” declared. Most of the kids were anxious to catch it (others were somewhat “grown up” and knew that happiness depends on greater effort than catching a ball). I reached out to catch the ball, and it landed on my head, bouncing off into a thrilled embrace of a girl who was sitting behind me. I remember thinking back then: “Does this mean, I will be fortunate or not?”
Whatever the case, later that year I moved to Canada.
The performance of the Nativity commenced, and was over in an hour. Scarce applause came from the children. I felt bad for the actors, when one boy shouted, pointing at “Jesus”: “Hey, won’t you crucify him?”
“Next time,” “Jesus” promised, as the actors hurried backstage.
Years later, I remembered that incident in Rome, walking to the Coliseum.
I wondered, “Do people now crave blood the same as millenniums ago?”
I decided, “Of course, not. We have evolved, for sure.”
However, later at the airport I heard a man say to his girlfriend, “I hope they show some good movie on the airplane. With lots of shooting and blood!”
So, does the human nature change?