St. Seraphim Church’s parish sends out its slavii stars on Christmas

Jan 8, 2018

On Sunday, Eastern Orthodox Christians around the state celebrated Christmas. In the days following Christmas, many celebrate the holiday by bringing brightly decorated stars from house to house for a caroling tradition called ‘slavii.’

After the Christmas liturgy, slavii began with all five stars spinning at the front of the church and the members of the church singing in Yup'ik, English and Slavonic.
Credit Avery Lill/ KDLG

Eastern Orthodox churches across Alaska celebrated Christmas on Sunday, following the old Julian calendar. One of the holiday’s most visually striking traditions in Alaska is “slavii.” Carolers bring spinning stars made of cardboard and tinsel from home to home, singing in Yup’ik, English and Slavonic. The Dillingham, Aleknagik, Portage Creek and Ekuk stars all began their journeys at St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church in Dillingham on Sunday. Some elders in the Bristol Bay area still remember when singers travelled for slavii by dog sled. These days carolers travel to nearby villages by snow machine, weather permitting. The celebration and the caroling will continue through January 13.

This star will stay in the church while carollers bring the smaller stars from house to house in the days following Christmas.
Credit Avery Lill/ KDLG
Credit Avery Lill/ KDLG
St. Seraphim of Sarov parishoners gather to slavii at Rev. Michael Nicolai's home.
Credit KDLG/ Avery Lill