Have You Thanked Your Babushka Today?

By Initiative of the Syktyvkar Eparchy in the Republic of Komi Will be Celebrated the Day of Orthodox Grandmothers

Typical Russian Orthodox Babushka
Your Typical Russian Orthodox Babushka

The press secretary of the Syktyvkar and Vorkuta Eparchy, Igumen Philip (Filatov) announced that on July 24, believers of the eparchy will for the first time celebrate the day of Orthodox grandmothers. According to him, it will be celebrated on the day of Holy Equal to the Apostles Princess Olga (in baptism Elena) the grandmother of the Holy Prince Vladimir, the baptiser of Rus’. Princess Olga has a particular place in the assembly of saints of the Orthodox Church. The uniting of Rus’ to the family of Christian nations and peoples was in many ways a result of the upbringing that she gave to her grandson. Fr. Philip remarked, “Presently Mother’s Day, the Day of Love, Family, and Fidelity, and Father’s Day are celebrated in Komi. It will be just to also remember about the older generation, i.e., grandmothers. Specifically our grandmothers carried the Holy Orthodox Faith through the difficult time for the Church of the Soviet period. Moreso, our Church also now in many ways stands upon their prayers. Upon the older generation partially lies the responsibility for the moral and spiritual upbringing of grandchildren. We hope that the celebration of grandmothers will become annual and have already appealed with a request to support our initiative to the minister of education of the Republic of Komi”.

“On the morning of July 24, in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Syktyvkara the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated. On the square in front of the cathedral will be served a moleben, after which believers will proceed into the White Hall of the house of the bishop. Students of the city’s orphanages, summer workshops, and Orthodox children’s camps and Orthodox grandmothers with their grandchildren are invited to the celebration. At the bishop’s house will be tea and a musical concert,” recounted Fr. Philip. (Source)


2 thoughts on “Have You Thanked Your Babushka Today?

  1. Five old fashioned homemade hats.

    A wizened old woman standing, standing
    (how many hours?) on a St Petersburg street,
    dressed in a drab coat, a plain pinafore
    & battered boots that had seen better days.
    She is mutely, unobtrusively holding
    five old-fashioned, colourful crocheted hats.

    There is no mawkish plea uttered,
    no beggar-plaintive pathetic sales pitch,
    she holds no crude, cyrillic cardboard sign
    begging for this tourist’s attention.
    She has no hopeful smile,
    neither has she a stubborn Soviet scowl
    – just five old fashioned homemade hats.
    Not one person pays her with any kindness,
    not even this action-parayised sight-seer.

    I curse my indecision, my thousand rouble note
    ( but why not lavishly buy all five handcrafted hats?)
    & while i’m at it, indicate to keep the change.
    She has been crushed by cruel communism,
    lost her life savings, been pauperised by perestroika,
    now conscripted into a heartless, hardcore capitalism.

    My babushka, my grandmother, you should not have
    to stand somewhat cowed on street corners
    selling gaudily coloured woollen hats to survive.
    Your witness to personal poverty righteouslessly
    stabs all our consumer consciences alike.
    I wince as I witness your dignified poverty,
    a true proletariat of Mother Russia
    beaten-down by misfortune,
    oh-so-weary of the old empty rhetoric.

    We tourists casually stroll up canal-side streets
    to the Church of the Saviours Spilt Blood,
    where haunting icons & frescoes almost reprimand.
    Remind us of the higher calling, the eternal obligations.
    Babushka, you were sadly absent on my return.
    Did you give up after hours, in despair?
    Did you faint on sore feet, from hunger?
    Had you gone to weep & pray in pain
    at the curiously empty Easter tomb
    in a way that only widows know?
    With a heavy, empty heart
    I cursed the business-bustling neon-lit streets.

    Suddenly, I spied your ghost, this time
    selling small bunches of garden flowers:
    mere daisys, clovers & ferns.
    I bought her second last bunch
    & bade farewell before change was offered;
    an atonement of sorts; then I saw yet another,
    gaudily dressed old icon-seller woman, closing up
    a battered suitcase & I pressed a folded
    note into her gruuby, creased palm with a prayer.

    Oh – but from here, this plush sittingroom,
    here I still ache (whatever happened to those
    five unwanted old-fashioned crocheted hats?)
    Where are you know, my worn-down Babushka?
    Are you still standing on street corners, hopefully?
    Can I forgive my ineptitude?
    Who can i send to that St Petersburg street,
    to buy five unwanted old fashioned hats?
    May the wash of minor-key choral Slavic liturgy,
    echoing from ancient Byzantium cleanse me
    censing, ilumminating my heavy, dark heart.
    O babushka, He will not break any crushed stem,
    any feeble icon candle He will not blow out.

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