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Christmas greetings to Russia from Siberia's online sensation, the 'Jolly Milkman'

By Olga Gertcyk
07 January 2015

American-born goat farmer records special message for his internet fans as he prepares to celebrate his second festive holiday in two weeks.

Justus decided to stay in Siberia and won his legions of online followers. Picture: Justus Walker

The American-born Siberian farmer who went viral after hitting out at Western sanctions in a memorable online video has issued a personal Christmas message.

With his distinctive laugh, Justus Walker won the hearts of the Russian people as he spoke about how he can finally sell his own homemade mozzarella cheese because the more famous Italian variety would no longer be available.

He was dubbed the 'Jolly Milkman' and became a YouTube sensation in the process following the TV news interview, in which he also described the measures against Russia 'an act of war'.

Mr Walker was more used to marking Christmas on December 25, with the early part of his life spent in the United States. But having lived in Siberia for the past 20 years he has grown used to enjoying a double holiday period, and now also savours his annual January 7 celebration in Russia.

And in a video posted on YouTube to mark Orthodox Christmas, he explains how his family marks the holidays, using both American and Russian traditions, and delivers a special holiday message to his internet fans.

Speaking in perfect Russian as he describes how his American-Siberian family marks the holiday period, he says: 'I congratulate you on the holidays, no matter how you celebrate them. I hope you also have some wonderful family traditions.

'I wish you all get together at one table and I wish that parents' hearts are always open to their children and children's hearts are always open to their parents.'

Jolly Milkman

Jolly Milkman

Jolly Milkman

Jolly Milkman

'Our tree is a special one: it has no star on the top but it has a crown. Every year we buy or make different toys. I have some from back in 1989 when my mum made them. Pictures: Justus Walker

Mr Walker came to Siberia with his parents in 1994 after they decided to sell their possessions and move from the United States to preach in rural areas of Russia.

They had spent a year studying Russian in Latvia before taking themselves to Krasnoyarsk, where they ministered in surrounding towns and villages, pastored a small church and fed and housed needy local children, as well as established youth camps and outreach projects.

In 2000 the Walkers returned to the US, but Justus decided to stay in Siberia where he continues to serve in the Boguchany region today. But it was his goat farming – and his mozzarella cheese – that attracted the attention of the Russian media, and won his legions of online followers.

During an interview at his farm for Channel One Russia in August he began laughing heartily at the fact he would now be able to sell his cheese in vast quantities because of the EU and US sanctions on the import of Italian mozzarella.

He had said: 'When we were talking to the buyers in the city, they told me 'why would I buy your mozzarella when I can buy Italian and it's not much more expensive?'

'But now? Ha ha ha. Why? Why? Because there won't be any of that Italian cheese any more. Ha ha ha ha ha!'

In his latest video, Justus tells viewers about his family’s plans for Christmas, and how it will be the second time they have marked the occasion in the space of two weeks.

On December 25, the Walkers – Justus, his wife Rebecca and their two children – opened up their Christmas stockings, exchanged gifts and enjoyed a traditional American breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup.

Jolly Milkman

Jolly Milkman

Jolly Milkman

Jolly Milkman

'I wish you all get together at one table and I wish that parents’ hearts are always open to their children and children’s hearts are always open to their parents.' Pictures: Justus Walker

But they will also celebrate January 7, with their tree staying up for a week when, according to Justus, 'the celebrations will be over'.

As he walks around his home, in the village of Takuchet, he says: 'I’m for celebrations in general and the reason is a good one. Christmas is one of the greatest days of a year. We can celebrate twice.

'Because Orthodox, Protestant, Russian and American cultures mix, we try to integrate and combine them as much as possible.

'Our tree is a special one: it has no star on the top but it has a crown. Every year we buy or make different toys and decorations for the tree. I have some from back in 1989 when my mum made them.

'Rebecca makes toys with our girls every year. We also start singing Christmas hymns before every meal and listen to traditional Christmas songs. We have Christmas stockings that we stuff for the kids, and we put some presents under the tree mostly for kids.

'As everyone knows, Santa Claus comes through the chimney. But we don't believe in Santa and don’t let our kids believe in him because I don't want to lie to my kids. It’s our family tradition to tell the truth to our kids.

'Also every year at around December 10th I start telling Christmas stories to my daughters.

'We make a traditional Anglo-American drink which is drunk only around Christmas and New Year time called eggnog. It’s made with 10 fresh eggs, nutmeg, vanilla, sugar and milk. It’s the real taste of the holiday period. 

Jolly Milkman

'Forget about the dollar exchange rate. You need to worry about something you can change. So, laugh and be happy.' Picture: Justus Walker

As for the year ahead, Justus laughs as he says he might create a special souvenir to mark his rise to fame over the past six months. He says: 'Maybe I'll start producing some mugs with the name 'Justus' on one side of it and '… and his Goat' on the other.'

In one final message, he adds: 'I would like everyone to remember everything wonderful that happened to them over the past year and the history of Russia’s rises and falls.

'A Russian was always different because he could laugh at difficulties. That's, probably, why I feel at home in Russia. Laughter heals.

'Forget about the dollar exchange rate. You need to worry about something you can change. So, laugh and be happy.'

Comments (1)

A true positive thinker with a lovely family, thank you for this interview ST!
frances, usa
12/01/2015 02:53

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