Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!

It's been a bit of a strange week in a nice way. John Saunders from the British Chess Magazine has published a link to my blog in his Chessbase article. Because of that I've had so many hits on my blog, from many countries all over the world, that it felt like a nice Christmas present to me. Thank you very much for everyone's comments and well-wishing. I hope you'll continue to follow my blog in the months to come.

Western Christmas is a bit of an odd holiday for me. For starters, Russians celebrate Christmas on the 7th January. However, that's a fairly new holiday for modern Russians because Christmas was "cancelled" during communist times and only re-instated less than 20 years ago. So, the tradition of celebrating Christmas has been lost for most Russian people and most just enjoy another day off work. Of course, Russian Christian Orthodox church continued to celebrate Christmas even during the communist times, but there were very few religious people in those days as it wasn't a good thing to be religious.

So, bearing all that in mind, I get a bit overwhelmed with how in the Western world so many people start preparing for Christmas and buying presents as early as September. I don't like the commercialism of the whole thing and the same Christmas music in every shop. I think Christmas is a great thing for kids but it doesn't have the same magic appeal to me I'm afraid. However, I do like the food! I'm going to cook a fantastic roast beef tomorrow (even though turkey is traditional in England, but I find it boring) with roast potatoes and parsnips, but no horrible brussels sprouts. And I love desserts, so I will certainly have lots of Christmas pudding with brandy butter. Are you hungry yet? I bet my cat can't wait for all the Christmas meal leftovers.


Jonathan said...

I don't like brussels sprouts either. I therefore fully support your decision to exclude them from the dinner. These deceptive cabbage-like objects were in actual fact designed as a psychological weapon to improve the behaviour of recalcitrant, young children, particularly those born in the 60s. The notion that they are rich in vitamins and fibre is all just a front.

Ryan said...

Happy Christmas Maria!

I have to agree about the over-commercialism of the celebrations, but it's always nice to be with family and loved ones, and of course to have some good food!

Have a very happy holiday!

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi Jonathan, that's very funny! I like that excuse :)

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi SonofPearl. Happy Christmas to you too! I agree that it's nice to be with the family too, but Western Christmas doesn't mean much to us Russians, so we don't get together. In fact, it's a working day in Russia today. My parents and my sister live in the USA and my grandparents are in Russia, so it's quite difficult for all of us to get together anyway. But that doesn't stop me from eating Christmas food! :)

Anonymous said...

I shall defend the honour and taste of Brussels sprouts to the grave :) I love'em!

What amazes me however, is that in France (where I am from), they are 'just another vegetable', and there's nothing christmassy about them. People who like them eat them from time to time. But in Britain, where most people quite simply loathe them, they are still served as a staple of festive meals every single Christmas...

So, I have two questions:
1/ is xmas a time for masochism? (a question further reinforced with god-awful family reunions that leave you more stressed than anything else)

2/ is there some kind of genetic magic going on, whereby the French love their sprouts and the Brits (and Russians!) don't?

Happy festive season Masha! x

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi Karen!

Yes, I think it must be genetics. We Russians love the normal cabbage though. I think you only love Brussels sprouts because they are green and it's your favourite colour, admit it! :)

I hope you are having a great time in Switzerland, though judging by your comment number 1 I'm looking forward to your stories when I see you next!

Merry Christmas!x

Jonathan said...

If I may respond to Karen's Sprout comments, my ardent belief is that there is no genetic magic going on. It certainly does, however, raise the question as to why this grotesque cultivar is served up at a time where each and every one of us are supposed to demonstrate goodwill towards others above everything else. Presumably this goodwill does not necessarily extend to those who plan the Christmas meals, nor to those who cook them.

Was it any wonder that decades ago, tail end baby boomers and early model generation X-ers revolted en mass to their parents psychological ploys, fuelled as those ploys were by the alleged virtues of this little green abomination?

I am sure there are many who clearly recall the veiled threats: "If you don't eat your sprouts, then no Lost in Space for you tonight". Or, "If you don't eat your sprouts, then no ice cream for dessert". And then the reverse psychology: "Alright, I suppose we won't have sprouts tonight if you clean your bedroom".

But perhaps the Grand-daddy of them all: "If you don't eat your sprouts, you will die of malnutrition. Carl Schlecter did and you might too!".

Is it any wonder that sheer handfuls of budding chess players across the globe - upon hearing of such a horror - took to avidly reading Fred Wilson's fine Classical Chess Matches publication, if only in a desperate attempt to comprehend the mastery of Austrian genius, so that perhaps they themselves might reach a respectable standard of play before being taken out in their prime?

A quick search of Google over the last few days reveals some extremely disturbing current day trends. Two British mothers have recently authored a book that features a recipe for brussels sprout ice cream. Amongst other recent Mail Online headlines we see the staggering: "Sprouts make a resurgence as Brits tuck in on Christmas Day!". On a more philosophical note, one author has recently asked: "Did God make Brussels Sprouts?".

Personally, I think this question should actually be: Are Sprouts the work of God, or the work of the Devil?

Signed Jonathan
(cancer free for the next 40 years but psychologically scarred for life).

Maria Yurenok said...

Brussels sprouts ice cream? Hmmm, Karen might even like it! :)

I didn't know Carl Schlecter died of malnutrition, though I have to admit I was never strong in history, including chess history.