Frontiers Preview: Russian Orthodox Christmas traditions burn bright in Port Graham
Long after the holiday-sales and gift-return seasons have passed in Alaska, Christmas gets a second wind.
On the Julian calendar, it falls on Jan. 7, the date the Russian Orthodox Church observes the holiday in Alaska.
In many rural communities, Christmas is followed by a week of festivities -- a melting pot of European and Alaska Native cultures.
“Starring” is one of the more popular traditions in which a spinning star is carried from house to house. It commemorates the three wise men who followed the star to Bethlehem. The roots for this ritual can be traced back to the Carpathian Mountains in the Ukraine and was probably brought to Alaska when the first Russians settled here.
In many Alaska Native communities, the star arrives at homes where tables are loaded down with food gathered from the wild, such as dried fish, moose meat stew, berries and seal oil.
This week on Frontiers, KTVA’s Rhonda McBride and photojournalist Will Mader, travel to Port Graham, a tiny community on the tip of the Kenai Peninsula near Homer.
Here’s a preview of this week’s show, with a taste of festivities that have a distinctly Alaskan flavor.
Frontiers airs on Sundays on KTVA, Channel 11 at 4:30 and 10:30 p.m. This week’s show, “Following the Star in Port Graham” airs on Sunday, Jan. 14, which also happens to be New Year’s on the Julian Calendar.
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