Every year on January 7th, the Russian Orthodox celebrates the Nativity of Christ, in other words, Christmas or Slaviq. We celebrate this for one whole week going to people’s houses following the Star and singing songs. The songs are sung in English, Russian, Slavonic, Yupik, and other Alaskan native languages.
    The Star is made from wood and decorated with gift-wrapping paper, beads, and other Christmas ornaments. People follow the Star because in the bible the Three Wise Men followed a star that led them to the newborn Jesus. The Star is the first one to enter a house, then everybody else that’s following files in until the house is packed. Once the choir is ready, the star boy stands in front of the alter facing the people and lights the candle on the Star. When the choir starts singing, the star boy twirls the Star until the songs are done. This lasts up to 25 to 30 minutes. After the singing is over, the priest or an elder goes to the front and talks about what Slaviq is or just reads a part from the bible.
    After the person is done talking, the owner of the house passes out candy or some kind of treat to show their appreciation for going into their home and blessing it. In some houses, they will have a feast where everybody in the house gets to eat. Going house-to-house singing, getting candy, and maybe eating can go on for 10 to 15 hours straight in a day. On the first day, Slaviq starts around 2 p.m. and quits at 12 a.m. The rest of the days it will start 3 or 4 p.m. and quit early in the morning. The very first place the Star goes is the church, then the graveyard, and the priest’s house. After these three places the Stars split up and go different ways, one goes left and the other goes right until they meet up.
    To most people in the village, Slaviq is a time to spread joy to people. That’s why we go house-to-house singing songs of joy. Slaviq is pretty much the same event as Catholic Christmas, we just celebrate it differently.
Author:  Tomas Levi