The Vertep- is a form of puppet theater unique to the Slavic peoples. It is a mystery play, dealing with events surrounding the birth of Jesus. It is performed often by children, with whatever music the players could provide. Despite attempts by the Communist regime to stamp out Vertep, this wonderful old Christmas tradition was resurrected, and is now performed at yuletide celebrations throughout Russia.
Traditionally, the play is performed by candlelight. It begins with the shepherds, includes the Three Kings, and Herod, who tries to kill the newborn King of the Jews. However, good triumphs over Evil, as Mary and Joseph make good their escape to Egypt, and Herod gets his just deserts.
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