Angels and “demons”: did aliens really contact saints?

Depictions of UFOs in Christian churches and pictures since the 11th century

Reading time 4 minutes

Did the humans descend from Adam and Eve? Not quite, some of the researchers say. We can see an increasing amount of assertions and so-called “facts” that human beings are under the control of aliens.  Some ufologists state that extraterrestrials allegedly contact some of us. However, the Church’s official representatives do not just reject all these statements but even a theoretical possibility of such kind of “interaction” between a man and “beings from other planets and not just”. Why does the Church with so much vigor try to “retain its monopoly” on the Human Origins?

2014 almost the whole scientific community was curious about an unusual finding. A strange fresco with a supposedly depicted flying saucer was found in a Romanian church. Moreover, the same kind of enigmatic inscription from the Bible was written at the bottom of the image in German: “Israel hoffe auf den herrn” (“O Israel, hope in the Lord”). Apart of a flying saucer, in this story we face 2 more additional mysterious facts:

  1. The fresco dates from the 14th century and there is an original line in German, although Bible was translated by Martin Luther only in 1522.
  2. At that time there lived the ruler of Wallachia Vlad II who was father of Vlad the Impaler also known as Vlad Dracula.
Biserica Manastirii, or Church of the Dominican Monastery, in the town of Sighisoara, Romania (14th century)
Biserica Manastirii, or Church of the Dominican Monastery, in the town of Sighisoara, Romania (14th century)

One more similar discovery happened in 2017 in Georgia. There, during the reconstruction of the church, scientists found the mural painting of 12 apostles and Jesus during the crucifixion dating from the 11th century. At the top of the picture one may see 2 unknown flying objects which resemble alien spaceships.

"Crucifixion of Jesus" on the walls of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Georgia (11th century)
“Crucifixion of Jesus” on the walls of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Georgia (11th century)

Two other images of the Jesus’ crucifixion with flying saucers being present are the “Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani dating from the 14th century and a picture “La Tebaide” created  by Paolo Uccello (1396-1475) .

“Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani, Kosovo (14th century)
“Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani, Kosovo (14th century)
“La Tebaide” Paolo Uccello (1396-1475)
“La Tebaide” Paolo Uccello (1396-1475)   

So, what do the Church’s officials say about the “extraterrestrial contact” and existence of other civilizations beyond Solar system?

Regardless of being Orthodox and Catholics, Jews or Evangelicals priests are convinced that all the information from so-called witnesses is nothing else as a part of their vivid imaginations, nightmares or even a proof of their sinfulness and connection with the devil.

One of the most logic explanations of such kind of Church servants’ reaction is just a lack of this sort of information in holy scriptures. The Church fears to lose its impact on people, its dominating presence in people’s life in terms of accepting the fact of existence of more developed and powerful forces. It fears to get a lower rank position in people’s world outlook and as a consequence a loss of its respect and authority.

"Baptism of Christ" Aert De Gelder (1645-1727)
“Baptism of Christ” Aert De Gelder (1645-1727)

Anyway, it looks a bit illogical from priests’ side that in view of the absence of information they do preserve only a negative attitude regarding flying saucers as they are depicted in temples near saints and not in a “hostile” way. Why in case of their existence cannot they be helpful to us?

A good example of it is a depiction of Moses receiving commandments from God. It is a world-famous fresco which is placed on one of the walls of the Belgian Cathedral Conti Dotremond.

A painting on wood near the castle Conti Dotremond, Belgium. Moses is receiving the tablets. Date and artist unknown
A painting on wood near the castle Conti Dotremond, Belgium. Moses is receiving the tablets. Date and artist unknown

It depends on you whether believe or not in aliens and their possible “visits” to our planet but in no case we have a right to accuse somebody to be inadequate, mentally ill or “linked to the Lucifer” as it sometimes happens. Nevertheless, we should not trust everyone who has seen “them” as too many people create stories for different reasons.

“There is something to lose your head from”

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin as a role model of responsible citizen at the lockdown

Reading time 5 minutes

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin is the father of contemporary Russian language. Pupils read “Eugene Onegin”, “Belkin’s Stories”, plays “Mozart and Salieri”, “The Miserly Knight”, “A Feast during the Plague” as well as adults reread. And who can remember from his youth that all these works were written at the height of the cholera epidemic of 1830?

How Alexander Pushkin got into the backwoods far away from his friends

Pushkin and Natalia Nikolaevna Goncharova were engaged in may 1830. He obtained the consent to the marriage only from the third request. The financial affairs of the bride were so up the spout that Alexander Sergeyevich himself had to earn money for the dowry which he allegedly received. Sergey Lvovich found with difficulty a not mortgaged estate that he could give to his son.

Master's house in Bolsino, family Pushkin's estate
Master’s house in Bolsino, family Pushkin’s estate

Boldino is a village of 500 souls. The father allocated to the son a nearby village Kistenevka, a part of Boldino estate. “Collegiate Secretary Alexander Sergeev, son of Pushkin” hastened to draw it up in a separate possession and pawn to get money for the wedding. For this reason, he arrived in Nizhny Novgorod province in September. He was forced to stay there for two months due to cholera quarantine.

Why should we take the poet for a model?

He didn’t lose composure

Alexander Sergeevich wrote two dozen of letters during the autumn in Boldino. He made up with the bride. Natalia Nikolaevna agreed to marry without a dowry.

Natalya Nikolaevna Goncharova, the bride and then the wife of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
Natalya Nikolaevna Goncharova, the bride and then the wife of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

At the same time, the writer did not forget about literary and critical practice. He asked Pogodin who was the publisher of the “Moscow Vedomosti” to send his tragedy “Marfa, Posadnitsa Novgorodskaya” for criticism. And in response, Pushkin sent a poem “The Hero” written on the occasion of the appearance of Nicholas I in cholera Moscow. The poet was not embarrassed to speak out against the regime naming himself but he wanted to publish the “apocalyptic song” with approval of the autocrat’s actions anonymously.

Pushkin willingly wrote many poems in Boldino. Autumn was the most fruitful time for him. The author was glad to be unexpectedly free to write what he wished and walk where he could. That feeling was expressed to his friend Pletnev in letters.

Pushkin approved of getting information in time

He read the cholera bulletins named “The Bulletin on the State of the Moscow City” which were published in the “Moscow Vedomosti”. The suspense tormented him. Alexander Sergeyevich was worried about the health of his family and the bride. He asked her to write regularly and was upset when the letters were long. Natalya Nikolaevna’s reply of October 1, he received on the October 26th. All suspicious and unverified information about the disease was rejected by him. A year earlier Pushkin had been to Arzrum where he had seen an outbreak of the plague, so he knew that the picture of devastation and the number of victims were often exaggerated.

Pushkin's letter to Praskovya Osipova. Punctured envelopes mark "cholera" correspondence. Letters were fumigated with sulfur or chlorine through the holes for disinfection
Pushkin’s letter to Praskovya Osipova. Punctured envelopes mark “cholera” correspondence. Letters were fumigated with sulfur or chlorine through the holes for disinfection
The writer was aware of necessity of precautions and lockdown

While there were no letters from Goncharova, the poet repeatedly tried to find out where the bride was. He was angry and concerned about her staying in Moscow and advised her to go to the country. Pushkin recalled a trip to the Caucasus and asked Natalia Nikolaevna to be careful and avoid cholera places. He also tried to go to Moscow and connect with his beloved. He was ready to stay in quarantine for as long as it would be necessary, though the poet did not visit the cordoned-off areas.

The strongest

How did the humanity fight dangerous viruses in different eras?

Reading time 6 minutes

When the coronovirus epidemic walks around the world, it’s time to recall what diseases people have already defeated. In the article we will tell you who, how and when saved the humanity from epidemics.

Plague

According to historians, up to 300 million people died from the plague. The disease was rolling in wave during the Middle Ages and the New Age. The most ferocious pandemics are the Justinian plague in the 6th-8th centuries and the “Black Death” in the 14th century. More often people got sick with bubonic plague – lymph nodes became inflamed and formed characteristic “buboes”. Pulmonary plague happened less frequently. A person began to cough and spit blood. In the first form, the probability of recovery was 25%, in the second – 0%. All the doctors could do was to protect themselves when approaching a sick patient.

Костюм, который вошёл в культуру Средневековой Европы: кожаные доспехи и маска. В «клюв» доктора закладывали травы, которые обладали антисептическими свойствами. При дыхании они нагревались и испаряли вещества, снижавшие риск заражения
This costume was popular in medieval European culture: leather armor and a mask. Doctors laid herbs in the beak that had antiseptic properties. When breathing, they heated up and vaporized substances that reduced the risk of infection.

We learned how to deal with “black death” in the 20th century. Epidemiologist Vladimir Khavkin created an inactivated vaccine against bubonic plague from temperature-killed plague sticks. The live vaccine was created and tested by the bacteriologist Magdalene Pokrovskaya. In 1947, Soviet scientists from the Red Army Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene developed the antibiotic called streptomycin and began to use it in Manchuria, where an epidemic broke out at that time. All patients who received the new medicine recovered. Today, with proper treatment, 90-95% of patients survive.

Smallpox

Chinese annals mentioned smallpox in 12th century BC. In the 6th century AD, the disease entered Europe. Epidemics happened regularly and claimed up to 40% of patients. The ones who recovered often remained blind and had disfigured scars.

A person who had contracted smallpox usually did not get infected again. A Millennium BC the Chinese instilled a mild form of the disease, so, that a person would not become infected with a serious one. However, the course of the disease was still individual and the person who was vaccinated could die. There were few people who wanted to try their luck, and the disease spread further.

Екатерина II первой в России сделала прививку от оспы. Страна последовала её примеру и в XX веке для поступления в учебное заведение уже требовалась справка о прививке
Catherine II was the first who got smallpox vaccine in Russia. The country followed her example, and in the 20th century a certificate of vaccination was required for admission to an educational institution.

The safest way to protect oneself from smallpox was invented by the British physician Edward Jenner in the 18th century. He suggested that  vaccination from cow smallpox, which was easily tolerated by humans, could protect them from dangerous natural one. The doctor conducted an experiment on May, 14 in 1796. The vaccinated boy remained healthy. Jenner later discovered that a vaccine made using the blood of a previously vaccinated person is just as effective as one made from biomaterial that has been infected directly from a cow. Now, vaccination did not require waiting for rare outbreaks of vaccinia. The last case of smallpox was registered in 1977, and in 1980 the World Health Association announced the victory over the disease.

Poliomyelitis

The developed countries faced epidemics of poliomyelitis in the 20th century. The patients were mostly children under 5 years old. The virus affected the nervous system and the gray matter of the spinal cord. The person was broken by paralysis.

Poliomyelitis is not treatable, but it can be prevented. Salk’s inactivated vaccine was launched in the United States in 1955. At the same time, Virologist Albert Seibin invented a cheaper and more effective live vaccine. Soviet scientists Mikhail Chumakov, Marina Voroshilova and Anatoly Smorodintsev tested it on their children, grandchildren and relatives. The vaccine helped to stop the polio epidemic, which has been affecting the Baltic states since 1949.

Основатель и первый директор Института полиомиелита и вирусных энцефалитов АМН СССР действительный член АМН, профессор Михаил Чумаков за работой
Professor Mikhail Chumakov

In 1988, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on the eradication of poliomyelitis in the world. After this initiative, the number of cases decreased by 99%. Today, the virus persists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

 

Salvatore Ferragamo will restore sculptures in Florence

The fashion house will donate more than 1 million euros

Reading time 3 minutes

Salvatore Ferragamo will contribute more than a million euros to the restoration of sculptures in Piazza della Signoria in Florence. Italian fashion house has already donated funds so that the masters can restore the Fountain of Neptune. Over the next three years, it is planned to restore both copies of the statue of David, one of them is located in the courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio, and the second – in Piazzale Michelangelo. In addition, the equestrian monument of Cosimo I will be restored, as well as the statues Judith and the Head of Holofernes and Hercules and Cacus.

Fountain of Neptune
The Fountain of Neptune is a fountain in Florence, Italy, situated on the Piazza della Signoria
The Fountain of Neptune is a fountain in Florence, Italy, situated on the Piazza della Signoria

Bartolomeo Ammannati’s Neptune is made of Carrara marble and has the features of Cosimo I de Medici, it overlooks the representation of the two sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis (in Greek mythology, two immortal monsters that assaulted the hero Odysseus and his sailors in the wanderings described in Homer’s Odyssey) and is surrounded by satyrs and sea horses, the fountain was built for the marriage of François 1er de Medici who would in turn become Grand Duke of Tuscany and was the eldest son of Cosimo I.

The statue of David

Michelangelo’s David is one of the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. During that period, sculptors such as Donatello, Ghiberti and Verrocchio produced works inspired by the Bible where David was shown after having beheaded Goliath. However, Michelangelo chose to represent the moment before the combat. Young David is ready to strike the giant holding a stone in his right hand with a sling resting on his left shoulder.

There are three copies of Michelangelo’s David in the city. The original one can be found in the Accademia Gallery. The second copy is located in Piazza della Signoria just opposite to the Palazzo Vecchio. The third replica is in the middle of Piazzale Michelangelo.

Judith and Holofernes
A copy stands in Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio
A copy stands in Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio

Judith and Holofernes, completed around 1460 is a masterpiece by Donatello. Under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II, there lived in Samaria, present-day Israel, a beautiful widow named Judith. The king’s general, named Holofernes, besieged the city where Judith lived. The situation was critical. Judith dressed in her finest attire and took some liquor and delicacies. She went to see Holophernes. The latter, charmed by her beauty, invited her under his tent. Judith made him drink and, taking advantage of his drunkenness, cut his head. By doing that she terrified the soldiers and saved her city. This precise moment is represented there by the artist.

Hercules and Cacus
Statue of Hercules and Cacus in Piazza Della Signoria in Florence, Italy
Statue of Hercules and Cacus in Piazza Della Signoria in Florence, Italy

When the Medici family (late 14th and 15th centuries) returned from exile in 1530, they instructed Baccio Bandinelli to create the statue of Hercules defeating the giant Cacus. It illustrates the victory of the Medici House. Among the members of the royal family were several dukes, two French queens and four Catholic popes.

Salvador Dali exhibition through the Curator’s eyes

A win-win combination for the immortal glory

Reading time 4 minutes

On January, 28, the large exhibition “Salvador Dali. Magical art ” opened its doors to the public in Moscow Manege. Everyone, like Elvis Presley, knows him. Thanks to bewitching paintings, mustache sharp as rapiers and a laid-back walk with an anteater. Painter, graphic artist, fashion designer, sculptor, performer and animator, he staged the ballet “Mad Tristan” and painted the ChupaChups logo, without changing himself.

Monsa Ager, the director of the Dali Museum, helped us to understand better the blossoming complexity of the creator.

In search of immortality

I would call Dali a true universal creator: an artist, graphic artist, sculptor, someone who can translate reality into a completely different plane. But first of all, he is a painter. Interested in classicism, the Renaissance, science, mysticism, he was able to achieve a triumph in surrealism, but did not stop there. He worked with well-known fashion houses, painted the covers of magazines and created jewelry.

He was a humble man who understood that creating a shocking image was simply necessary for his art. All his life, a struggle of becoming as good as his brother, followed him. His name was also Salvador (he died nine months before the birth of the future artist). In his autobiography, Salvador Dali wrote that he had been searching for real faith all his life, but never found a suitable one. Science gave more answers, considering that the artist aspired to immortality. And working on his art, he earned the immortality.

Dali’s secret is kept in the ability to reflect the anxieties of people, their dreams and fears in a very realistic way. When you look at the work of Salvador, you always see elements that cause discomfort, it is impossible to look at them calmly. So, the artist provokes the viewer to play a game. He arouses curiosity. At first glance, it seems that everything is clear in the picture, but then we go deeper and deeper into this tricky game, noticing all the new elements, details and symbols. As a result, the artist leads us into this complex maze and leaves us alone with ourselves and our thoughts. And whether you get out of this labyrinth or not, it is up you.

Symbols

Clock is a favorite Dali’s symbol. The artist was fascinated by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The shape of the clock in his work is fluid and unstable. It shows the master’s interest in the contrast between the soft and hard state of the object.

The Persistence of Memory, 1931
The Persistence of Memory, 1931

The perspective plays a very important role in all Dali’s works. It is an indicator of both time and the depth of a person’s subconscious.

Double images are constantly hidden on his canvases. Perhaps most often they appear as a self-portrait of the artist. This is probably a type of narcissism: Dali was constantly ill in childhood, so he was given a lot of attention – family, doctors, relatives – he still had a need for constant care until his death.

The Invisible Man, 1929-1933
The Invisible Man, 1929-1933

A face with an airplane is the image of a just dropped atomic bomb, which instantly explodes in the right corner, right next to a clock twisted into a tube and a human figure. It instantly affects the world, the passage of time and a human life. Other watches are leaning against the head. They flow down, hinting that the idea of the length of time after the appearance of the atomic bomb has changed.

Melancholy Atomic, 1945
Melancholy Atomic, 1945

Tears, a sad blue face and shadows demonstrate the artist’s attempt to find a place for his art in a new world.

Cracked elements such as vases, clocks, columns represent unbearable human pain.

Color and the turn of the head are homage to Diego Velazquez. Dali turned to his works quite often in the last period of the career.

Seated Figure Contemplating a 'Great Tapeworm Masturbator', 1981
Seated Figure Contemplating a ‘Great Tapeworm Masturbator’, 1981

Vertical figures in the background are cypress trees, which the hero of the picture (presumably Salvador Dali himself) reproduces from his childhood memories. He saw them through the window at school.

The male figure on the left – Dali himself, young, twenty-year-old. His whole life is yet to come. Light stripes symbolize good memories from life, dark ones – awareness of the inevitable end.

Portrait of Gala with Rhinocerotic Symptoms, 1954
Portrait of Gala with Rhinocerotic Symptoms, 1954

Recognizable features of Gala can also be considered as a certain symbol – inexhaustible love, passion, inspiration and sex. They appear in his works throughout his entire life – sometimes with a naked torso, then with a portrait, sometimes she is only taken apart into elements – but Gala is always recognizable.

 

“Journalistic is not a profession to come into, it is a profession to be seduced”

Cheese maker, journalist, and optimist Halina Spasskaya speaks about the ability of living how you want

Reading time 6 minutes

When Moscow began to grow beyond Sadovoe ring, I was working as a cheese making technologist. I was able to distinguish 100 kinds of cheese. But one day I accidentally turned up at the radio-station and fell in love with it. Journalistic is not a profession to come into, it is a profession to be seduced.

Love and session

I entered Moscow state university but was dropped out of it at the end of the first year. Thus, I understood once and for all my life that love and session are incompatible. My choice was never in favour of session… It is a family feature: my grandfather was expelled from a seminary because of his love affairs. By the way, he married a beautiful woman and became an engineer. He worked at Kurskiy railway station, so lobbied landowner L’vova’s interests when she decided to divide her estate into sites and sell them for dachas. Exactly that dachas are said to be described in “Vishneviy sad” by Chekhov. As for the faculty of journalism, I finished it in Moscow State University of Printing Arts.

“Tyoshcha”, convicts and full bears

This painting was drawn by Halina Romanovna's pupil. By common consent of her old friends, it depicts her character most of all.
This painting was drawn by Halina Romanovna’s pupil. By common consent of her old friends, it depicts her character most of all

One day I was promptly sent to the event in Onega at White sea. When I rushed to the ticket office, it turned out that Onega can be reached just by the only trailer car which went once a week. That trailer car had already gone. That is why I developed the tactic and went with changes to Plesetsk then by Murmansk train to the station from which train for workers, “tyoshcha”, went twice a day. However, I did not count that Murmansk railway was a single-track one and after driving through one section, the train waited for the oncoming one to do the same. Due to this fact, I missed the “tyoshcha”. So, I went to the station masters-on-duty and said that I had to be in Onega till 7 p.m when the event started. They replied, “Easy as pie! Once you have gone right through the taiga about 2 or 3 km, you will see the road along which convicts are carrying the forest. They will give you a lift. People as people. Don’t be frightened, bears are full in Autumn”. Well, I am a sensible woman I asked for another way. It was pretty suitable. Girls stopped the passing locomotive, “You’ ll be transferred to the track crossover. We’ve called the duty. She’ll stop the oncoming car to Onega”. How unique northern people are! I was afraid that convicts might pass by but the duty reassured, “Don’t worry, I closed the crossover, nobody can pass by without stopping”. Yeah, they gave me a lift, so I was in time for the event.

PhD’s envy

Nowadays Halina Romanovna takes any possibility to travel, though, by more comfortable transport. She prefers rucksacks to suitcases which never takes with her
Nowadays Halina Romanovna takes any possibility to travel, though, by more comfortable transport. She prefers rucksacks to suitcases which never takes with her

My progress in journalistic was quick I became an editor at “Podolsk-radio” but still felt that I have lack of knowledge in social science. That is why I started searching for places where I could study. At that very time Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences was opened. It was the only place where sociologists were taught and I was lucky to get after-graduate programme as academic Igor Bestuzhev-Lada tutee. I was attracted by the programme of social psychology. Studying was splendiferous: lectures were held once a week and we got wages for it. Moreover, a month time off was given to us to prepare a dissertation and we could take another one without salary to finish it. Of course, I used them all! My husband envied he said, “I am a scientist of the Russian Academy of Sciences and I have only 45 days off while you have 54”.

Don’t wait – live now

In childhood my health was poor. I had congenital heart disease and diabetes but father always told me, “You can always lie as an ill person but you ought to live energetically. Now”. He taught me to ride a horse, drive a car, swim. There is a 300 metres long pond in our town and father said that I should swim it across to learn how to swim. I was stunned. It was scary… However, I succeeded at the second try. When I was floundering, he held me up. My father skied with me, let me drive a motorbike, even sent me to a shooting club. By the way, I had the first ranking because I could shoot 96 targets from 100. In my opinion, active social lifestyle starts when you stop frightening of working.

Halina Romanovna's Instagram page
Halina Romanovna’s Instagram page

Nowadays, Galina Romanovna is Podolsk star. Over 17 hundred of people are subscribed to her Instagram blog. “Orel i reshka. Babushka” casting must have added fame indeed.

Double Christmas and New Year?

How Russia came to the different celebrations of the same holidays

Reading time 6 minutes

The humanity invented many calendars such as moon and moon-solar, Julian and Gregorian, also new Julian one. Let’s know what calendars used in Russia and how they affected contemporary holidays.

Ancient Slavic tribes had many customs connected with tne Moon
Ancient Slavic tribes had many customs connected with tne Moon

Our ancestors espoused paganism so they closely associated life with the cycle processes of nature. The ancient Slavic tribes counted time via moon calendar. The term between moon appearing and its disappearing constituted approximately 30 days and was called a month. The celebration of New Year started at around December 25 and lasted for a dozen days after the solstice. Then the duration of daylight started to expand, and the Slavs launched a new sowing circle.

The calendar changing in Russia happened in the X century because of a new faith arrival of. Knyaz Vladimir baptized his territories to the Byzantine rite. Christian date calculation came with the new religion. Since then Slavic tribes started distinguishing years from the Creation of the World and stated the 1st of March as the new year’s first day. Months’ names also were changed according to the Julian calendar that was invented in Rome at 46 B.C.

Ivan III removed the New Year from the 1st of March to the 1st of September. The tzar sought to unification of holidays in Russia, so in 1492 combined the New Year with the harvest festival and the tax collection time.

Gregory XIII is famous for the calendar introduced into the Catholic countries in XVI century. the author of the calendar is a priest and astronomer Christopher Clavius
Gregory XIII is famous for the calendar introduced into the Catholic countries in XVI century. the author of the calendar is a priest and astronomer Christopher Clavius

In the XVI century, people found out that the duration of year in the Julian calendar did not correspond to the astronomical one. The Earth revolves around the Sun 12 minutes faster than the Romans believed in ancient times. In 1582, the discrepancy constituted 10 days. That was the reason why Christmas shifted to spring, and Easter to summer. To improve calculations, Pope Gregory XIII suggested a new calendar which was named Gregorian later. It was accepted so in Catholic world October 15 came after October 4 to annihilate the gap between calendars.

This gap between calendars accumulates over every 128 years. Therefore, before 1701, it made up 10 days, while nowadays it amounts to 13. While the dissimilarity between the Gregorian and astronomical year amasses over 3333 years. New Julian calendar is the most precise. It lags from the astronomical year no sooner than over 40,000 years pass. Until 2800, the New Julian and the Gregorian calendars are alike.

Peter I was that who moved the New Year to the 1st of January, though he left the Julian calendar. Therefore, Russia stepped into the 1700th year A.D. from 7208th year from the Creation of the World. However, due to the gap of 10 days Russians in St. Petersburg celebrated The New Year when, for instance, in Amsterdam people lived in the 10th of January.

Tikhon is the first Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia after the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia in 1917
Tikhon is the first Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia after the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia in 1917

The second New Year occured in Russia after 1918 when the Bolsheviks finally switched to the Gregorian calendar. Although, the secular state accepted it, the Church still stuck to the old style. Patriarch Tikhon reject the calendar because according to it, the Orthodox Easter could fall before the Jewish holiday Pesach. It contradicted the decisions of the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325 A.D. Therefore, the Orthodox celebrate Christmas Eve not at the 24th of December as Catholics do but at the 6th of January. And they celebrate the Old New year at the 13th of January.

Thus, since the tenth decade of the last century, Orthodox people in Russia have been living simultaneously on two calendars with two new years and Christmas in January.

Where the Halloween came from?

A brief history of the worldwide holiday

Reading time 6 minutes

Although many people celebrate the Halloween at the eve of November 1, not many of them are aware of the roots of the holiday. This article is just about the history of Halloween.

The holiday was invented by Druids that was one of the peoples pertaining to the ancient Celtic tribes. The majority of Druids inhabited the territory of modern UK, France and Spain. They divides a year to 2 seasons, so they did not have Spring and Autumn. Summer ended at October 31 and the next day new season, Winter, and New Wear begun. Also, October 31 was the last day of harvest. Then Celtic tribes celebrated Samhain which means the end of Summer in translation from Celtic. During the holiday people lit sacred fires, thanked gods for not depriving the tribe from crops, and met the dark season. Samhain was the ancestor of contemporary Halloween.

The area setteled by the Celtic tribes B.C.
The area setteled by the Celtic tribes B.C.

Ancient Celtic tribes adhere paganism. They believe that in the Samhain’s night souls of the dead roam in the world of the living. Celtic tried to propitiate them with sweet gifts so that they keep the next harvest safe. These beliefs have transformed into trick-or-treat tradition. Children knock to the doors of adults to entreat them to give sweets and biscuits. Nobody refuses because in the past superstition that anyone who did not open the door for the spirit, would be punished existed.

Halloween is the day, when people eat the largest amount of sweets anually
Halloween is the day when people eat the largest amount of sweets anually

One more custom is carving lanterns from pumpkins. Not having wanted to attract ghosts to houses at Samhain’s night, ancient Celts extinguished their hearths and kindled forest fires. To reach the forest safely, they dressed in animal skins. In the forest the Druids performed sacrifices: they burned cows at the stake. After that the fire became sacred. Members of the tribe placed coals from their fires in lanterns cut from turnips. Then the Druids took the lanterns and left them at the door so that the souls of their ancestors could see their homes and escape wandering around the world. Dark spirits, according to the Celts, were afraid of this fire.

The tradition is based on Celtic myths. The legend says that the Irishman Jack lived to outwit both God and the devil, therefore he did not go to heaven or hell after death but remained in purgatory forever. In order not to wander in the pitch darkness, he made a lantern. The farmer put a hell coal given by the devil into the lantern.

Nowadays, the pumpkin has become the main symbol of Halloween
Nowadays, the pumpkin has become the main symbol of Halloween

At the beginning of the new era the Celts were conquered by the Romans then both were forced to become Christians. Because of this, pagan holidays were gradually mixed with Church ones or blurred but they were not consigned to oblivion, for example, Samhain underwent a metamorphosis.

After Pope Gregory III officially moved the celebration of All Hallows Eve from spring to November 1, the ancient pagan holiday and the new Catholic one coincided. From that moment Samhain was called Halloween. Initially, All Hallows Eve was shortened to Hallowe’en and then to Halloween.

Halloween parade in New-York, the capital of the holiday
Halloween parade in New-York, the capital of the holiday

In the 19th century many Irish emigrated to North America and brought the traditions of the holiday. Now Halloween is celebrated most widely in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries. From the beginning of A.D. to the XXI century many rituals have changed. Jack’s lantern is not made from turnips anymore, nowadays people make it from pumpkins. Moreover, they carve not ancestors’ faces but terrifying ones. Revelers do not dress up in animal skins they wear costumes of evil spirits. Nowadays, the celebration of Halloween is becoming more popular even in those countries that did not adopt the Celtic culture from their ancestors.

British scientists shocked!

It turned out that the ancient Celtic warriors fought with willow bark shields

Reading time 4 minutes

In Leicestershire, England, researchers discovered a 2300-year-old shield that was made from tree bark. This fossil is the only specimen of such a shield of the territory of Europe.

The shield dates back to 395–250 BC. Archaeologists say that the discovery drastically changed their ideas about weapons of the Iron Age and caused a heated discussion between experts.

Щит сохранился благодаря оставлению в заболоченной яме
The shield is preserved because it was left in a marshy pit. (Photo: University of Leicester)

“This is certainly an amazing object, one of the most iconic and world-important finds I have seen in all my work,” admitted Julia Farley, curator of British and European Iron Age collections in the British Museum.

In 2015, researchers from the University of Leicester Archaeological Service near the Soar River found a shield. According to Matt Beamish, the chief archaeologist of the study, objects from natural materials of this time are extremely rarely preserved, but the shield has survived in marshy soil. Maybe he was specially placed in a water-filled pit.

Matt Beamish added that shields from the bark of that period had never been found in the northern hemisphere before. It was assumed that the wood material was too flimsy for use in wars. However, the reconstruction of weapons from alder and willow proved that the 3 mm thick shield was light but reliable enough in the battles of that time. According to Beamish, contrary to researchers’ assumptions, such weapons were widespread in that period.

Процесс реконструкции найденного щита из ольхи и ивы
Alder and willow shield reconstruction process (Photo: University of Leicester)

The weapon is made of green bark, which is reinforced from the inside with slats of the same material. The main part is surrounded by a rim of hazel and wicker willow. Matt Beamish noted that “this is a lost technology,” which was not known before. Apparently, this technique was used in many areas for the manufacture of products from the bark.

Supple green tree, giving the shield strength and shape that remotely resembles the figure eight

“It was important,” says Farley. According to her, the Battersea shield had a similar shape. It was extracted from the Thames in the middle of the 19th century and dates from the same period.

Щит Баттерси
Battersea Shield (Photo: British Museum)

Farley argues that the visual world of the Iron Age is lost for us, since from the period 395-250 BC few artifacts left. She added that a new find for her is “a small window into that world.” For Farley, this awareness is “incredible and so exciting.”

The shield was donated to the British Museum. Farley hopes that the shield will be exhibited in the museum next year.

Holocaust through the prism of modernity

The story of 13-year-old Hungarian Jew Eva Heyman recreated in Instagram

Reading time 5 minutes

The story of the Jewish girl Eva Heyman, who died in the Auschwitz camp in 1944, was brought to live in Instagram. The creators of the project showed what would be the life of Eva if she posted on her social media everything she had been going through.  

«The Nazis conquered us»

The eva.stories project recreates the events which Eva wrote about in her diary. It consists of 70 short videos that reflect the life of a Jewish family during the war years. Everything is depicted in insta-stories format, in the profile, the authors of the project posted only a poster and a trailer. The role of Eva Heyman is played by British actress Mia Quiney.

View this post on Instagram

Eva.Stories Official Trailer

A post shared by Eva (@eva.stories) on

War first comes to Eva’s family when her cousin gets deported to Poland. After some time, the accomplices of the Nazis come to the pharmacy of the Eva’s grandfather and confiscate it in favor of the government. The decisive moment for Eva Heyman’s fate is the day when she sees the incoming Nazi army. From now on, she promises subscribers to broadcast everything that happens. The girl shows the details of life with a yellow star on her chest. In the ghetto.

Ева Хейман, жертва Холокоста
Eva Heyman is a Holocaust victim whose story served as a reminder of the tragedy

The project was sponsored by the Israeli businessman Mati Kochavi and his daughter Maya. It was launched on May 2nd, Holocaust Memorial Day. Before filming the story of Heyman, Mati and Maya Kochavi looked through about 30 diaries written by the victims of those events. But Eva’s diary stood out for its modernity and simpleness.

Злосчастная желтая звезда, которую евреи впоследствии были обязаны нашивать на наиболее заметные места своей одежды, стала самым зримым символом нацистского антисемитизма.
The Yellow star – a symbol of Nazi antisemitism, all Jews were obliged to sew it on prominent places of clothing

Before launching the eva.stories the authors widely announced the project both on street billboards and in social media. The initiative was supported by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel. The account was also noted by different celebrities in their profiles, including the actress Gal Gadot («Wonder Woman») and the stand-up comedian Sarah Silverman. As a result, the account had around 200.000 followers before it was even launched. Now Eva’s profile has about 1.7 million subscribers.

Билборд с рекламой Instagram-аккаунта Eva.stories
The billboard advertising the Eva.stories Instagram account

The initiator and producer of the project Mati Kochavi believes that the world is beginning to forget about the terrible events of the Holocaust. That is why he created the project and invested about $5 million in it. Neither the government nor any organizations financed the creation of Eva’s profile.

Although, there are some critics on the way. Disputes in the comments under the publications in Eva’s profile do not cease. Users think that the profile is not serious enough. Critics of the project reckon that it is inappropriate to use Emoji, stickers and hashtags when it comes to the Holocaust. Many also criticize the implausibility of Eva’s modern story. For instance, how did the girl manage to charge the phone if there was no electricity in the ghetto?

According to Maya Kochavi, their team was expecting this kind of reaction as well. However, Kochavi family is convinced that they chose the best way to address the situation: the problem of antisemitism does not lose its relevance. Instagram platform was chosen for a reason: it was important to bring the issue to the younger generation.