Day 17-C

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From there we went on to the church and theorized burial ground of St. Nicholas – and I will never live the same. First of all, the place was overflowing with scantily-clad Russians who came as a pilgrimage. Also, Umit told us lots of stories about the truth versus the myths and legends about St. Nick. Just as Apollo was worshipped for different reasons at various cities, St. Nick became the patron saint of children, sailors, gifts, and some other random aspects of life. Until Coca-Cola got a hold of him in the early 1900s and loaded him up with a ton of weight for an advertising campaign, St. Nicholas was a very lean man usually dressed in a green robe. The legends about him reassuring sailors abound to this day. Also, Umit forever ruined decorating Christmas trees for me. Apparently, dating back to the Sumerians, great fear possessed the citizens during the winter solstice, for for four days at the end of December, the sun does not behave in its usual pattern and the days are extremely short. Christmas was thus a celebration of the end of that period of anxiety. As for the tree decorating, it was common in mother-goddess culture, which also valued bulls and bull testicles, to hang said testicles on trees and let all the juices drip down and fertilize the soil beneath. This is also where the tradition of burying Easter eggs came from – the people would put bull testicles in the ground as a slightly superstitious fertilizer. Mom and dad are gonna love to hear that one. Anyways, after more anecdotes and some souveneir shopping, we loaded back on the bus (a new one, mind you, meaning that the swimsuit I left on the last one is gone forever – I’ll probably buy another of the exact same one when I get home) and headed for lunch at a most pleasant trout farm about an hour away from St. Nick’s church. A tiny family-owned place hidden in the mountains, the serene outdoor restaurant next to the water served us the freshest, juiciest tomatoes (and I don’t usually eat them, so that I did and loved them is really saying something), the warmest fluffiest bread, and the tenderest trout I’d ever had. Dr. Goebel lied about losing 10 pounds cuz every day so far I stuffed myself silly. Lunch also entertained a lively discussion about childhood TV entertainment and a roast of IUP’s production of Lysistrata as spearheaded by Hannah Simon [check out what it was about, as well as photos, here:  http://www.iup.edu/page.aspx?id=129783]

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