Happy New Year (of the Dog): How to Celebrate like a Buryat

Happy New Year (of the Dog): How to Celebrate like a Buryat

Around the shores of great Lake Baikal in south central Siberia, the indigenous Buryat people enjoy a New Year’s celebration that lasts an entire month. Called Sagaalgan, “White Month,” the holiday is a hybrid of shamanist and Buddhist traditions, and it begins just before the Lunar New Year. Read More







Secret Santas in Belarus, Poland, Russia, Finland and Latvia

Secret Santas in Belarus, Poland, Russia, Finland and Latvia

In this Santa Survey, I’m going to skip the towns of North Pole, Alaska, and Santa Claus, Indiana, as well as any of the flourishing Santa-themed parks in the U.S. Instead, I’m heading straight overseas to investigate some foreign Santa habitats. Read More



Exile’s End: The Decembrist House Museum in Irkutsk

Exile’s End: The Decembrist House Museum in Irkutsk

Irkutsk is a pleasant, tree-lined Siberian city of near 600,000 on the banks of the Angara River. Before the Trans-Siberian Railroad arrived, czarist political exiles and prisoners who had served their terms in the labor camps settled here, denied permission to return to their homes in Western Russia. Some of these were Decembrists, young officers who had become advocates of political reform. The House Museum of the Decembrists belonged to one of these officers and his wife. Read More