One of the most interesting holidays celebrated by the indigenous peoples of northern Russia is Reindeer Herder's Day. It is rooted in antiquity and is timed to coincide with the Spring Equinox, when the Arctic wakes up from the long polar night. This is a real festival of culture for residents of the Yamal Peninsula: the Nenets, Khanty, Mansi, Komi, and Selkup peoples. The festival usually begins in a certain place at the end of February and is celebrated in all major cities of the region, passed on as in a relay-race from one place to another until the end of April. The traditional program usually includes displays of chooms (cone-shaped tents made from reindeer skins), reindeer sled races, local food, fairs, and various competitions. At the central sites of the festival, thematic chooms are set up, in which visitors can drink tea and attend master classes in folk crafts. According to tradition, a Christian choom-chapel is also set up, so that people who attend the festival can come in to pray, talk with priests about spiritual topics, listen to Gospel readings in the Nenets language, and obtain spiritual literature for their personal libraries. The following Christian materials in the Nenets language were prepared especially for this festival: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as illustrated collections of Gospel Parables and Stories about Jesus Christ, published by IBT. These resources were donated to the Salekhard Orthodox diocese for distribution by IBT.
This year the exegetical checker in the Nenets translation project, who has been living and working in Salekhard for more than twenty years took part in the work of the choom-chapels in Salekhard, Panaevsk, and Yar-Sale. “For me,” she says, “this was a rare opportunity to meet and communicate with those Nenets who spend most of the year in the tundra — it was their holiday, after all — and, of course, to convey the Gospel to them in their native language! Those who came to our choom-chapel were very happy to chat and did not leave empty-handed or without spiritual guidance.”