Say Miss Olga, do you know if your ancestors were Old Believers?
I feel I SHOULD know what you're asking, Setanta, but I don't.
In the mid-seventeenth century, a new Patriarch in Moscow, Nikkon, changed some of the ritual forms of the Russian Orthodox Church, and tried to "clean up" the clergy and the monasteries and nuneries. The preists, many of whom lived with mistresses and lead rather venal lives, fought back by alleging to their congregations that Nikkon's reforms were the work of the Anti-Christ, and that if they followed his lead, they would all surely go to Hell. Nikkon was eventually brought low by a foolish attempt to challenge the authority of Alexeii Mikailovitch, but the reforms stayed in place. One issue, for an example of how foolish such things could be, was whether one crossed oneself with two or three fingers extended.
Those who opposed the reforms were dubbed the Old Believers, and they fled their homes to escape what they considered oppression and a certain condemnation to eternal damnation. Many fled to the northern woods, and many others fled to the Ukraine, a traditional refuge of fleeing serfs. So that is why i asked if you knew if your forebears were Old Believers.