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Baltic Dialogue Initiative

'Light of the Christmas Star' Intercultural Festival Launched



St. Petersburg, Russia - Russian children traveled to Finland and Sweden as part of the “Light of the Christmas Star” Festival December 11 – 15.

The Russian participants came from St. Petersburg, the village of Bolshaya Izhora, and the city of Pskov. On the first day, they gathered in a big hall to learn to know one another. First, they took part a game based on folk tales about a new year tree, a bunny, and a silver star. Then people dressed as Father Frost and his colleague from Finland, Yolupukki, arrived and offered congratulations and best wishes. Father Frost is a character from Russian folklore who lives in the woods and rules supreme from November until March. In Finland, he is known as Yolupukki.

Studying their cultures is a good means to understand neighboring people, experience their creativity, and learn from each other.

There was an exhibition of artwork on the theme of “Young Ambassadors for Peace.” There were drawings, paper crafts, mats with traditional designs, and beautiful handmade national costumes.

On the second day, children competed in categories of singing, dancing, and circus performance. The jury had a hard time to choose the winners, because all the entries were interesting and well presented.

ru-fin-swed-2505-2On the same day, a serious discussion took place among the older participants about the ways they can contribute to the life of their country. In a neighboring room, the younger children made drawings showing how they envision the “country of the future.” The best drawings were awarded prizes from the foundation formed by the noted Russian artist Mihail Chemiakin.

The following day everyone traveled to Turku, the oldest town in Finland. There were musical performances on the piano and accordion on the theme, “Peace in your mind, love in your family, and peace on the planet.”

The final events, in Stockholm, Sweden, included music competitions and recognition of young people who embody the ideals of the Universal Peace Federation. They received letters of commendation, prizes, and certificates as Young Ambassadors for Peace. School children in Sweden also received gifts that the Russian children had made when they were getting ready for their visit.

Preparations for the festival began on September 21, the International Day of Peace. More than 100 students in the region participated in an event that day on the theme “The Baltic Sea Is Our Common Sea.” The program started with a Finish folk dance, brilliantly performed by members of a dancing group. This was followed by interactive training for the children on the theme of “Living in peace with others.” Children created a list of tolerance principles and created a symbolic Corridor of Friendship by planting rows of young trees. Students at the German high school also planted trees. The event was organized by the Universal Peace Federation, the Methodic Center of Primorsky, and the House of Nationalities.

Parents raised money for their children to travel to Finland and Sweden to participate in the December "Light of the Christmas Star" celebrations.

For more information about UPF's Baltic Dialogue project, of which these activities are a part, click here. The photos are from the program in Sweden.

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