Uksuq asillria. - The year was good.
Russian New Year is one of the beloved holidays observed by Alutiiq families that practice Russian Orthodoxy. This celebration of renewal is held annually on January 14, which is New Years Day on the Julian calendar that tracks the Orthodox year. Around Kodiak, Russian New Year is celebrated with social events that include feasting and dancing. Holiday parties include a diversity of elements reflecting the cultures that have contributed to contemporary Alutiiq life: the joyous dancing and visiting of Alutiiq winter festivals, Russian dishes made with traditional subsistence foods, and the polkas, Rhinelanders, schottisches, and waltzes introduced by Scandinavian fishermen.
In the Kenai Peninsula villages of Nanwalek and Port Graham, Alutiiqs celebrate Russian New Year with a special pageant. In this dramatic performance, costumed participants act out the triumph of the New Year over the old. A squad of armed guards accompanies the New Year, who is dressed in white and followed by twelve finely gowned women representing the months to come. The old year arrives in black, heavily masked and attended by clowns. Throughout the performance the two groups dance, spar, and joke. The pageant ends at midnight, as the old year is vanquished. This is followed by recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and late night dancing for everyone. Elders recall that similar pageants were once held on Kodiak.
Illustration: A year of Alutiiq activities. Alutiiq Museum gallery.