Stars Spin for Russian Christmas in Unalaska

Friday, January 09 2015

Russian Orthodox congregation members spin stars at the Senior Center for Slaaviq. The white star at right is from the former Unangan village of Kashega. (Annie Ngo/KUCB)

It’s Christmas in January in the Aleutian Islands. Russian Orthodox congregations up and down the chain are celebrating Slaaviq, or Russian Christmas, this week. They’re holding starring ceremonies, where a star decorated with bells, lights and tinsel spins as the church choir sings in Russian and English. 

Unalaska’s Slaaviq began Wednesday at the Senior Center. KUCB's Annie Ropeik was there and brought back this postcard.

Choir [singing]: Star of the east, o Bethlehem star, guiding us on from heaven afar ...
Father Evon Bereskin: "We're going out to proclaim the birth of Christ, and the stars that we're spinning are the star which the wise men followed. So we're spinning and singing and following the star, which leads us to Christ. And the blessing of the food is the blessing that Christ gives it, that we may have this joyful feast together."
[Choir singing in Russian]
Vince Tutiakoff, choir leader: "This star here is from Kashega, the oldest star probably being used today. Probably about 100 years old, at least, brought in from Kashega to Makushin to here."
Choir [singing]: ... Many years to all, to the people in this house! 

The congregation has spent the past few nights bringing the Kashega star into the homes of friends, family and anyone else who asks for it. They’ll finish up those starrings tonight.

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