Talk of The Rock: Father Innocent on the Russian Christmas tradition

It’s Christmas time in Kodiak- Russian Christmas, that is. Father Innocent Dresdow joined KMXT’s Dylan Simard on Talk of The Rock to discuss the Russian Orthodox Christmas tradition and some of the events going on in Kodiak to celebrate the January 7 holiday.


Father Innocent is the priest of the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak. He says the holiday begins with a series of services, followed by a tradition called “starring.” That’s unique to Russian Orthodox congregations in Alaska and a few parts of Europe.

“So Friday evening at five, we’ll have the Vesper service, and everyone’s welcome to come. And after we finish that service, which is about 40 minutes long, we will begin and the star will be brought to the center of the church and one person will be appointed to spin it, and will begin caroling,” Father Innocent said.

According to Father Innocent, the carolers go from home to home over a three-day period- and while it’s rare, sometimes congregations in Alaska meet while they’re out caroling.

“In some places, it’s really kind of special because they’ll have what they call Star Wars. And that is when two different stars, maybe from different villages meet. And it’s basically who can out Carol the other one. Oh, you know, as you can imagine the liveliness that that can bring,” Father Innocent said.

Father Innocent says that the details of how the tradition took hold in Alaska are lost to time, but that Alaska – and Kodiak in particular – have their own important histories within the Russian Orthodox faith.

Christmas services at the Holy Resurrection Cathedral will be held at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday, and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday and are open to the public.

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