Russia: How Vladivostok Christmas Tree Craziness Made Me Laugh

Christmas tree on the main square of Vladivostok photo by zeka_vasch

Christmas tree on the main square of Vladivostok photo by zeka_vasch

People in Vladivostok, Russia's largest port city on the Pacific Ocean,  never lose their sense of humor. Otherwise one would be in the perpetual state of depression. They laugh about everything from nerve-racking traffic jams and alarming snow situations to Christmas tree arrangements and new taxes on the imported Japanese cars.

There are many reasons to be sad – sarcastic or cynical – because life in Vladivostok is a never-ending struggle with the weather, climate and/or local authorities. This unique sense of humor is evident on the Internet.

Every year city residents struggle with the snow. But this winter is different because they must deal with rain as well. Traditionally, the winter streets and roads of the city are snowy and chaotic so people have no choice but to look for the positive side to this. For example, a couple of weeks ago after a heavy rainstorm, the entire city virtually turned into such a huge ice skating rink that some locals, like blogger yasinkov, were even skating on the sidewalks.

Last year, local authorities in Vladivostok have spent about 10 million of rubles on a 28-meter Christmas tree [RUS], making it the most expensive in the country. The officials apparently had no better way to spend money. A couple of days before the New Year's Eve, this overpriced tree collapsed under the gale.

Collapsed Christmas tree in Vladivostok (2009). Photo by zeka_vasch on Livejournal

That was indeed an epic failure that was then mocked mercilessly on the Internet by netizens such as Den, who pointed out [RUS]:

В следующем Новом году купим за 15 лимонов, а то эта какая-то дешевая была, хлипкая. Будет чуточку получше

In the upcoming year, we will buy [the Christmas tree] for 15 millions because this one was cheap and shaky. It will be a bit better.

While some bloggers were having fun, user Маргарита [Margarita] exclaimed:

Бог все видит!!! Сколько инвалидов детей нуждается в денежной поддержке? А эти “властелины” народного добра выкидывают деньги на ветер!!! Чем вы гордитесь??? говоря о стоимости? Что самый богатый город в стране, чтоб за такие деньги украшать площадь??? Лучше бы технику для очистки дорог купили!!! Расточители народных денег!!!

God sees everything! How many disabled children need financial support? And these “lords” of people's goods throw money away! What are you proud of?? speaking about the cost? Is it the richest city in the country to decorate the square for that money?? You'd better have bought some machines for cleaning the roads! Prodigals of public money!

This year, Christmas trees were already a subject of much mockery. The budget for the New Year's celebration was nearly halved [RUS]. However, netizens were expecting the Christmas tree to break down again. LJ user fstrelcov offered [RUS] to set up a green concrete cube with the words “Christmas tree” on it instead of a real tree so the construction is steady and survives the strong wind. Local officials and designers did not seem to consider this post-modern idea and proceeded to arrange traditional trees around the city instead.

The “Marine” Christmas tree became the most controversial and outspoken mostly because of its shape and size. It is called marine because it resembles a lighthouse. And again, residents could not resist mocking it. Some activists even wanted to organize a flash mob to roll up two giant snowballs [RUS] and put them next to the tree. But this did not happen because some netizens pointed out that there was not enough proper snow for this.

"Marine"Christmas tree by zeka_vasch on Livejournal

"Marine"Christmas tree by zeka_vasch on Livejournal

A prominent Vladivostok blogger zeka_vasch keeps monitoring the Christmas tree situation and has uploaded his photographic commentary. People are still expecting the tree on the central square to break or fall, thus continuing a tradition of epic failures in Vladivostok.

I would like to express specials thanks to blogger zeka_vasch who allowed me to use his photos in my post

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