Before 1918 Russia had the Julian calendar, which lagged two weeks behind the Gregorian calendar, used in the rest of Europe. In 1918, however, the government decided to get rid of the two-week difference and adopted the Gregorian calendar, triggering dissatisfaction of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church still uses the old calendar, which means that Christmas in Russia is now on January 7 according to the ‘new’ style. That is why many Christmas features and traditions are associated with New Year.
The main figure is, of course, Grandfather Frost. He has no children, but – surprise! – has a granddaughter, Snow Maiden. The legend of Snow Maiden was popularised by Alexander Ostrovsky, a 19th-century playwright, who lived near my native town, Kostroma. That is why Kostroma is the official residence of Snow Maiden who has become our local brand.
Christmas is followed by a peculiar unofficial holiday, ‘Old’ New Year, i.e. New Year according to the Julian calendar. Some people celebrate it, too!
This vista of festive possibilities influences my English lessons badly. The guys tend to miss more classes than usual, because there are presents to be bought, parties to be arranged and projects at work to be finished. I encourage them to listen to the materials from the On the Move section of the eWorkbook, but such tasks have both an advantage and a disadvantage of autonomous work which is almost always beyond the teacher’s control.
Unit 7, as usual, gave us food for thought. That is one of the features of Global I appreciate most of all. There are many new facts about culture, so before discussing the section Places from the coursebook, I had to do some research on the World Heritage myself. The World Heritage website proved to be so interesting that I asked the guys to find some information about the Russian World Heritage sites.
The section People from Unit 7 turned out to be a treasure for Andrey who at the moment is having a conflict with his boss. In his usual perfectionist manner he did some extra work to find new words to describe her. This is another proof that personal experience is the best motivator.
Both Andrey and Ruslan have a huge problem with writing. I am sure the eWorkbook is horrified when they attempt a writing exercise from there! It gives them nasty red crosses instead of pleasant green ticks every time they type in words, so I have had to introduce some other forms of working with words. Old-fashioned dictations prove to be most useful.
2012 is coming soon. My students and I are full of determination and, thanks to Global, we will be a success, I am sure of that. We wish Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the Global team and to those who have been reading my blogs.