MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Navy will not be nixing the 200-year-old tradition of featuring the Roman god of the sea in its festivities, despite complaints about his “pagan” nature, a Navy spokesman said Tuesday.
“The claim that humorous skits featuring Neptune and other mythological creatures […] go against the Navy’s Christian traditions […] is beyond criticism,” the spokesman told RIA Novosti.
Neptune, accompanied by an entourage of mermaids and imps, is a staple feature at various maritime festivities in Russia, including Navy Day, nicknamed Neptune Day.
Local media reported earlier this week that the Russian Orthodox Church had asked the country’s Navy to give up on Neptune and his unchristian following, who “were not on board Noah’s Arc” starting next year.
This anti-Neptune sentiment was endorsed in mid-July by controversial church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin, who spoke out against people at public festivities “dressing up as pagan gods, unclean spirits or characters symbolizing dark spiritual powers.”
The Russian Navy first celebrated Neptune Day in 1803. The tradition was continued by the Soviet Navy despite the Soviet Union’s atheistic state ideology.