My Corner, Your Corner: Russian Christmas is celebrated today

My Corner, - Your Corner - Tony Callaio

Now that Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa 2017 have come and gone, it’s time for one more celebration.

Today is a special day for those celebrating Russian Orthodox Christmas, which is celebrated on Jan. 7 followed by Russian New Year on Jan. 14.

My dad’s family always observed Russian Christmas in honor of his mother who grew up in the Russian church. I always thought it was cool that we kept our Christmas tree up until the middle of January.

It’s not uncommon for those who observe the Russian calendar to celebrate both Christmases. I know a few people who exchange gifts only while observing Russian Christmas.

Some of the differences between Christian and Orthodox Christmases: Russians call Santa Ded Moroz or Father Frost; he is helped, not by elves, but by a snow maiden named Snegurochka who helps put presents under the tree.

Father Frost wears felt boots and, instead of traveling by a sled led by reindeer, he’s placed in a sled led by three horses. The number three is prevalent, representing the Holy Trinity in the Orthodox Church.

A typical Russian Christmas meal consists of pork, goose or some type of meat dish.

Looking ahead

We are officially one week into the New Year and it will take a little while to get used to writing 2018. It happens to me every year, especially when writing checks. I always had that problem in school after going back from Christmas break.

Now that we’re a mere seven days into 2018, how many people have reneged on their New Year’s resolution?

According to an article in Forbes magazine, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolution. It is estimated that 40% of Americans actually make resolutions.

An article in Business Insider tells us that approximately 80% fail by the month of February. It seems the number one resolution is to lose weight, a category into which I fall.

How ‘bout that weather?

It’s January so we can expect crazy weather, including the severe cold and snow. We narrowly escaped the massive winter storm this weekend, but we didn’t flee the zero degree temps. I had to thaw my pipes twice this past week, giving my hairdryer a workout.

Today marks a day of transition and more moderate temperatures. I can use a January thaw right about now and, according to the Weather Channel, it looks like the next 15 days will offer moderate temperatures.

Stay safe and warm and please don’t use anything to thaw pipes besides a hairdryer.

Voice command electronics

Did anyone get an Amazon Echo Dot or any voice command electronics like Google? My daughter Ashley gave me the Dot for Christmas and I placed it on my work desk. I had considered getting one for myself because I love any kind of electronics, but she beat me to it.

I can’t tell you how handy this thing is. I use it a lot when inquiring about different subjects. I used it today while writing this column. It’s like having World Book of Encyclopedia at your disposal without lifting a finger.

Younger generation folks reading this might ask “What is an encyclopedia?” Encyclopedias were the precursor to the smart phone and computer. They were hard-cover books sold by door-to-door salesmen.

There were about 20 books in alphabetical order and you had to look up things that way. It was a great source to use for school and usually that’s how the salesmen got their commission by making parents feel guilty if they didn’t want to buy them because they were not cheap. My parents had to take a payment plan in order to buy them.

We had encyclopedias for our source while people today use their phone or computer. I’m sure you take a payment plan on those items, as well.

Many years ago, I heard of the “smart home” of the future. The smart home would include operating things like lights, home security and even running bath water at the temperature you desire.

I don’t live in a smart home, but my home is getting smarter. Last year, I purchased smart devices that would connect to my lights and I even bought a smart wall switch.

Those switches can be programmed though my iPhone and I can turn lights on and off no matter where I am – locally or away. It’s pretty cool, actually. You can set scenes where you program the lights of your choice to go on and off whenever you desire.

The program is pretty cool as well because it tells you how much energy you use per outlet.

I’ve been able to program my Echo Dot and command Alexa to turn on or off lights at will.

I have also discovered Alexa will play games with me, including Jeopardy (do you hear that Eileen Palmer?) or 20 Questions, etc. I’m sure more applications will be introduced in the not-too-distance future.

Move over, Siri, you have company!

Quote of the week

“There is no force so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” – Everett Dirksen, American senator

Thought of the week

“Humor is the instinct for taking pain playfully.” – Max Eastman, American author

Bumper sticker

“Fear is the highest fence.” – Dudley Nichols, American screenwriter

My Corner,

Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at