Bad Yuletide Omens

Настали святки. То-то радость!
Гадает ветреная младость...
Татьяна любопытным взором
На воск потопленный глядит:
Он чудно вылитым узором
Ей что-то чудное гласит...
Татьяна на широкой двор
В открытом платьице выходит,
На месяц зеркало наводит;
Но в темном зеркале одна
Дрожит печальная луна...

[Yuletide has come, what joy!  Carefree young people take to divination... Tatyana with a curious eye watches the candle-wax melt:  Its wonderfully molded pattern seems to tell her something marvelous is about to happen... Tatyana walks out into the cold night air wearing just her smock, and holds a mirror up to the moon; but in the dark mirror, all she sees is the moon, trembling sadly...] 

(Pushkin, Evgeny Onegin)

Dear Readers:

First a quick discussion of the Russian Yuletide customs and superstitions; and then eventually I will get to the punchline of this extended joke, so please be patient.

In Western culture, Christmas is already long over, and most people have tossed their Christmas trees into the dumpster. In Russian culture, the Yuletide period lasts much longer. In fact, the period from January 10-19 is considered the peak of the Yule/New Year holiday period when it comes to the “art” of divination. Namely, guessing, or divining, through magical means, what the future year might bring.

Tools to peer into the Future!

In pagan times Russians came up with many different and creative methods for “divining” the future, using objects such as mirrors, candle-wax, eggs, cats, and many others. Although the Orthodox Church might not feel fully comfortable with it, these practices continue and have made their way into Christian culture as well. Quoting the piece I linked above: “Our ancestors believed that precisely during this period [of early January days], the souls of the dead return to Earth. The Old Year had ended, and the New Year was ahead. In Old Rus the New Year began on January 13. The people believed that it was precisely during this period of Yuletide when the Lord God opens the gates of Hell, so that even the demons are allowed to enjoy Christmas. Such an attention to the Higher Powers led people to believe that omens and divinations were of increased importance during this time.”

“Christmas Divination” – painting by Konstantin Makovsky

Everybody remembers that scene in Tolstoy’s War and Peace where Natasha and Sonya use the mirror and candle method of divination to get a glimpse what their future husbands will look like. Among girls in the same family or peer group, it was important to know, not just that one will find a husband, but also, as a matter of prestige, which of the girls will hook her man first.

Similarly, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin tries many different methods of divination to try to figure out who her future husband will be. (Spoiler alert! it ended up being the “fat old General”, but at least she dodged a bullet that it wasn’t Onegin.) But it wasn’t just young girls of marriageable age who utilized these methods of foretelling the future. Young people, of course, were interested in future loves or spouses; older people might worry about the harvest or the health of their children. For many people divination was a matter of “make a wish” and hope it might come true. Depending on which foot the cat steps on first when entering the room, or whatever…

Bad Omen in Kharkov

Now that we have established that this time of year is considered prime among Russians, when it comes to superstitions and omens, we get to the punchline of this joke. Here is a story I saw about something that happened in Kharkov, Ukraine, just a couple of nights ago, on the night from January 13-14, to be precise. A night that is considered “peak” for omens and foretelling of the future. In fact, any event which happens on this precise night is bound to have a coded meaning! Knowing, as we now do, that the demons have been allowed out of Hell for just this one night to flit around the skies and effect events. And who knows what kind of eerie pranks these fellows are up to?

So, here is what happened in Kharkov on that fateful night, a city which belongs to the Ukrainian entity but is considered Russian to its very core: A very strong gust of wind simply ripped the Ukrainian flag in two, straight down the horizontal middle, tearing blue from yellow stripe.

As Tatyana Larina might have said:

“Прости ж и ты, моя свобода! Куда, зачем стремлюся я? Что мне сулит судьба моя?”

[“Farewell, freedom! Where am I going and what do I strive for? What does fate have in store for me?”]

This entry was posted in Religion, Russian History, Russian Literature and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Bad Yuletide Omens

  1. Stephen T Johnson says:

    Yes, quite the symbol, eh? Not that I believe in superstitions or anything, knock on wood 😉

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Hey, I’m not superstitious either, and one such incident can be just written off as random chance. But 2 similar incidents? I’m talking about this similar story which I saw just today. Apparently this happened last night or the night before, still within the acceptable window of “Yuletide omens”. It’s almost exactly the same thing except this time the wind tore apart a giant banner of Bandera, right across his foul hate-spewing mouth!

      So I am thinking these 2 incidents combined HAVE to be a legitimate omen, right? Right, and I sincerely believe in soothsayers as well…
      🙂

      Like

  2. Ben says:

    Was wondering if you would touch on the current Ukraine situation. From what I’ve been reading in English, it looks like NATO is going to try and get Kiev to launch a new assault on the Donbass, to try and bait Russian into taking overt action so NATO can then claim ‘Russian aggression’.

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Hi, Ben,
      Yes, I have been following this very worriedly. Looks like that is exactly what Nuland is planning, she and her flying monkeys are definitely planning an attack on Donbass. While mouthing all kinds of Hail Maries in advance.
      In the words of the schoolyard bully: “I am going to kick the ass of your little friend here. YOU are going to just stand and watch. If you come to his defense, this is what happens: All my brothers and cousins will come to kick YOUR ass. Plus my uncle will take away your Smartphones. And then Finland and Sweden will join our gang, just to give you even more headaches to worry about…”

      One hopes that Putin is man enough to rejoinder, “Bring it on.” But one will have to see…

      Like

    • Stephen T Johnson says:

      If you haven’t already, you should definitely read Dmitry Orlov’s (not paywalled) opus
      https://cluborlov.wordpress.com/2021/12/10/biden-to-russia-dont-you-dare-eat-this-moldy-bagel/
      It’s very clear that the collective west are going all in to get Russia to invade, as I think they would love to saddle Russia with that black hole. As Yalensis says, it’s schoolyard level “I DOUBLE Dog dare to you invade, you big sissy!” type stuff. The big question is whether the more violent elements of 404 can work themselves up into actually trying to invade the Donbass in earnest, as I doubt that anything short of that will work – the yapping of Tabaqis will not move Baloo (Wasn’t trhat Jungle book metaphor near perfect?)
      I imagine the cats at Stavka who do contingency planning are trying to game this all out with a focus on “How do we minimise any potential incursions to keep civilian casualties low so that we don’t have to invade ?” It’s a weird scenario for a wargame, but Dollas to hryvnia they’re doing that.
      Coffee now.

      Like

      • yalensis says:

        Thanks for the Orlov link, Stephen.
        I’m not sure I agree with Orlov’s analysis, however. I see this debating point a lot, namely “why would Russia even WANT to invade and subjugate such a basket case?” (or eat a moldy bagel, in this case). Of course Russia doesn’t WANT to invade Ukraine, or occupy it, any more than it wants to eat a moldy bagel. But I’m not sure that’s the real point. The real point is whether Russia can stand by and watch NATO position offensive weapons just across the Russian border, with around 5 minutes flight time to Moscow. That was Putin’s supposed red line. Russia needs more than 5 minutes to respond if the bombs start flying.

        I mean, Moscow would have to do SOMETHING, no? Either invade and overthrow the Uke government, or at least do an Israeli stunt like a fly-over bombing of weapons facilities? Whether they want to or not, and I’m pretty sure they don’t want to do anything like that, but what if they have to?

        Like

        • Ben says:

          Russia has zero intentions of invading even the Donbass, which is filled with people who would be quite happy to formally join Russia, and which still has heavy industry which might be worth the effort (but probably not). There would be nothing in it for Russia; they already have the Crimean Black Sea ports. Ukraine is an economic basket case. Quite aside from the whole ‘maybe starting WW3’ thing, taking Ukraine would be a net drain on Russia’s economy, and that’s before even getting to the fact of more sanctions etc as a consequence of the move.

          The whole ‘Russian troops massing at the border’ narrative is one of the singularly most stupid things I’ve ever seen the western media parrot, because literally no part of it is true. It’s a completely false, fake news storyline conjured up out of absolutely nothing. The troops ‘near the border’ are actually at two long standing bases 100 and 150 miles from the border. They’re as close to Belarus as they are to Ukraine. There aren’t remotely enough of them to invade and hold Ukraine; there are between 70,000 and 100,000 Russian troops being deployed for ‘maneuvers’ (almost certainly cover for being deployed as a counter in case NATO tries anything). Something like a million would be needed to take and hold Ukraine, in other works most of the entire Russian military. Russia even sent 10,000 of the deployed troops home three weeks ago. Also, invasion troops would not be lined up out in the open at two long standing military bases.

          b over at Moon of Alabama (who on the whole is far less insane than people like that troglodyte Saker) is making some very specific predictions. He thinks NATO/Kiev will launch their offensive on February 3-4 while Putin is out of Russia attending the Winter Olympics in Beijing. He then predicts Russia will let the assault go on for a day or two, until it becomes abundantly clear to the world who fired and the first shot and what is really going on, then it will obliterate the Ukrainian military (who will likely already be bogged down fighting the federalists defending their homes tooth and nail) from the air over the course of maybe a week. After that the ball is in NATOs court as to if it wants to directly intervene and escalate further.

          It’ll be interesting and horrifying to see if these predictions prove correct or not.

          Biden is absolutely disintegrating domestically. He’s somehow contrived to be a lam duck president in his first year while still controlling all of the federal government. he has effectively accomplished nothing, he’s literally more ineffective than Trump (Trump doesn’t owe me 600 bucks!). His administration has given up completely on covid, to such an extent it’s starting to penetrate into even hardcore liberal minds. He needs a foreign policy ‘win’. If he’s ever going to do something vis a vis Ukraine, he’s probably going to do it now.

          Like

          • yalensis says:

            Biden still owes you that $600 bucks? And that was after standing up in the Forum and promising the rebellious plebeians a thousand bucks apiece; and then all of a sudden it’s presto-chango, now it’s only 600. Grifting cheapskate … that reminds me, I never got mine either. In fact, the IRS scammed me out of my legitimate refund as well. claiming they gave me too much stimulus the first time around… I’ll show them some stimulus… bastards…
            😦

            Like

            • Ben says:

              I’m talking about the ‘2000 dollar checks, out the door’ he promised if elected. He only sent 1400 of that, then claimed that added to the previous 600 sent that was 2000 total. We literally got more money out of Trump.

              Like

              • yalensis says:

                I know! These capitalists are completely out of touch. Do they honestly think people can live on such crumbs after they lose their jobs due to covid? And they were acting like, people should be kissing their asses in gratitude for the 600 bucks. It’s literally peanuts.

                Like

      • Ben says:

        Oof. I knew he was a global warming denialist, but I didn’t know he was an ozone depletion denialist as well. Hell, I didn’t even know that kind of denialism existed. Also he doesn’t seem to understand how fiat currencies work (the US is no danger of going ‘bankrupt’).

        Like

  3. Stephen T Johnson says:

    No, you’re absolutely right. which is why I think we’ll fairly soon see the military side of military-technical – let’s say the Russians (arguendo) feel threatened by one of the mooted pretend-Ukraine, really NATO bases to be built around the mouth of the Dneiper.
    If I were a gambling man (which I emphatically am not) I’d bet that the Russians will blow these up (not by invasion, but by rocket / cruise missile attack), taking a page from a common US approach as hegemon. It’ll be a one-off, 3 in the morning on Sunday attack, to minimize casualties.
    Ukraine is the obvious place to start doing this, but will not, I believe, be the end. Those dual use “ABM bases” planned for Poland and Romania are obvious candidates, too, as I think Stavka will bet that The US isn’t going to do anything other than bloviate and/or sanction (No biz trips to Paris for you, Mr.Shoigu!). The Tabaqis and permanent war crowd in the US will be beside themselves.
    This isn’t my idea, both the the Andreis (Martyanov and Raevski) seem to be on that page, and I expect the Russians already have a list of candidates for high explosive deconstruction.

    Like

  4. Peter Moritz says:

    Here are some observations by some Russian pundits:
    https://gilbertdoctorow.com/2022/01/18/russian-elites-talk-war-evening-with-vladimir-solovyov-16-january-2022/

    I find this paragraph the most accurate, to the point description of what Russia did:

    “According to Kedmi, Russia has not only delivered an ultimatum to the United States and NATO; it has delivered an ultimatum to itself. Russia cannot afford to fail in the coming confrontation. To fail would, in his words, put the government and the state in peril. It would show that Russia is weak, irresolute and incompetent. Therefore it is vitally important for Russia to win this fight, while for other countries, like the EU, it is just a matter of lost prestige.”

    Like

    • Peter Moritz says:

      Ps: which of course means that it will be war when the USA declines to accept Russia’s demand regarding NATO expansion. There will be no bowing down by Russia, and I fear that the so-called “diplomatic” contingent of the USA is simply an assortment of morons:

      “Unfortunately the Blinkens, Sullivans, Farkas’, Nulands and others who seem to be driving USA policy don’t understand any of this. They remain convinced that the US is a mighty power, that Russia is feeble and fading, that Putin’s position is shaky, that sanctions are biting, that Russia’s economy is weak and so on. And that they understand modern warfare. Everything in the past twenty years contradicts their view but they hold to it nonetheless.

      Take, for example, Wendy Sherman who was the principal American negotiator in Geneva this month. Look at her biography on Wikipedia. Social worker, money raiser for Democratic Party candidates, political campaign manager, Fanny Mae, Clinton appointee to the State Department, negotiator with Iran and North Korea. Is there anything in that record to indicate any knowledge or understanding of Russia or modern war? (Or skill at negotiations for that matter?) And yet she’s the one on point. Jake Sullivan: lawyer, debate preparer, political advisor, ditto.”
      https://patrickarmstrong.ca/2022/01/19/russia-ukraine-et-al-what-next/

      Who actually appointed those nincompoops?

      Like

      • yalensis says:

        oy yoy yoy! So scary. Will the world end with a whimper because adult matters were put into the hands of these complete retards?
        Ladies and Gentlemen: An inglorious end to the human race… A species which once produced the likes of Aristotle and Beethoven; but then descended to a Winkie-Blinkie and a Wendy Sherman?
        😦

        Like

        • Ben says:

          It won’t be a whimper, that’s for sure.

          Like

        • peter moritz says:

          This is Martyanov’s take on the situation, and points to other reasons for the push to conflict:
          https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2022/01/america-needs-war.html
          “America Needs War.
          Desperately. In this particular instance the war is more needed on Democrat’s side of the isle due to a variety of reasons, which are:
          1. US being caught in the Catch 22 of Russia’s “ultimatum” and having no other ideas about how to extricate itself from Ukraine’s conundrum;
          2. The coming trashing of Democrats at the upcoming mid-terms, aggravated by POTUS’ “excellent” rating;
          3. With Democrats’ agenda imploding as I type this and massive systemic crisis engulfing combined West.
          The US, being geopolitically one trick pony, is hell-bent on pushing Russia towards invasion of the country Russians neither want nor need and would prefer NATO (and US with EU) cleaning up and paying for the mess they created in 404.”

          and the “fake” gets even heavier:
          “Sen. Chris Murphy appeared Tuesday on Anderson Cooper 360, where the Connecticut Democrat addressed the growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, with Russia now reportedly having hundreds of thousands of troops posted at the Ukrainian border.”

          If that keeps going, pretty soon all of Russia will be amassed at the border.

          And the laugh track please:
          ““Putin seems to be getting absolutely horrible advice. People telling him he is going to be greeted as some kind of liberator in a country that has turned against Russia over the last 10 years and is going to fight for its survival.”

          Those damn advisors. They all lie to him. Poor Vladimir. They forget: Putin is not uncle Joe with diminishing mental capabilities. And I like smoothie’s conclusion about US experts:

          “It is literally the situation of auto-mechanic with vocational school performing an open heart surgery and thinking that he knows what he is doing. You can easily predict the result, for a patient.”

          Like

          • yalensis says:

            This is sadly true, the level of the “political experts” advising Uncle Joe is pathetically bad. With the auto mechanic, well, at least he knows a useful skill. Those people know literally nothing.

            Like

          • yalensis says:

            P.S. – did you see this piece in RT, it’s quite funny to read.

            https://www.rt.com/russia/546575-putins-plans-ukraine-invasion-msm/

            Apparently some people have a lot of time on their hands and like to play war games on their computers. Having said that, the scenario might be accurate as such, except for Phase #5. Where it reads “Russia faces a bloody insurgency that forces it to the table” that should be switched to:

            Phase #5. Russian and pro-Russian forces wipe out Azov insurgents in the course of a single day, Ukrainian crowds gather in the streets to cheer on their liberators…

            Like

  5. peter moritz says:

    And then there is this:https://taibbi.substack.com/p/thomas-friedman-roars-back-to-form
    I was unaware that the NYT had a satire section.
    Read this short excerpt and try not to spill your coffee onto the keyboard:

    “Why is Vladimir Putin threatening to take another bite out of Ukraine, after devouring Crimea in 2014? That is not an easy question to answer because Putin is a one-man psychodrama, with a giant inferiority complex toward America that leaves him always stalking the world with a chip on his shoulder so big it’s amazing he can fit through any door.”
    How the typical US “Liberal” perceives Putin. Can only be satire, can’t it?

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      If he is a one-man psychodrama, then Putin is capable of performing a one-man play on Broadway, called “Marry Me Or I Kill You!”
      He could even make it interactive, like the Cirque du Soleil clown segment, and invite audience members up onto the stage, to try to knock the chip off his shoulder! In the final act, he picks the best contestant to marry, they have a big wedding, and then he kills the “bride” (who could be a guy, we’re modern here…)

      Like

      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – why are people constantly saddling Russia with that shop-worn “Kill my neighbor’s cow” joke? Everybody knows that is actually an old Jewish joke!

        Like

        • peter moritz says:

          If it helps to denigrate an enemy, everything in propaganda is fair.
          It is a good joke, to the point, describing human foibles succinctly. Just fail to see how it applies to President Putin. And especially considering that the deal the RF offered to Yanukovich was by many degrees better than what the EU offered to Ukraine.

          That deal would likely really have helped Ukraine to economic recovery before the putsch which basically threw Ukraine into the dumpster.

          Like

          • yalensis says:

            Taibbi’s piece is super-funny, by the way, thanks for posting it, I needed a good laugh. It reads like pure stand-up, but then he was given good material. He mentions the other version of that joke, about “pluck out one of my eyeballs” (so the neighbor will receive two-fold). Truly, these old jokes tell some profound and sad truths about human nature.

            As for Yanukovich: He may have been a crook but he was no dummy. He knew that the deal Putin offered was way better than the EU offer. And he was willing to take it, which is why the EU/Nazi coalition overthrew him and chased him out of the country. That Russian-offered deal was not only NOT a cow-killing deal, would have left the Ukraine with more cows (literally), more money, and keeping its coveted location as the gas hub for Europe. Plus, they would still have Donbass and Crimea.

            Like

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