Voices from Russia

Saturday, 29 April 2017

29 April 2017. Is Your Parish Still Celebrating? It Should Be…

00 russia dancers krasnogorsk raion moscow oblast 290417

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The above image is of the Красная горка (Krasnaya Gorka: Red Hill) celebration in Dmitrov (Krasnogorsk Raion, Moscow Oblast). Where better to celebrate “Red Hill” than in “Red Hill” Raion? Red Hill is the popular name for Thomas Sunday and for the following week. Obviously, it’s a “baptism” of pre-Christian pagan festivities marking the beginning of spring, people hold dances and fairs, organise bonfires and celebrations, and often hold marriages at this time (it’s thought particularly auspicious). People make another round of Easter Eggs and Cakes and keep the party spirit alive. By the way… the Igumen of the local Monastery of St Dmitri Salunsky blessed this festival…

It’s party hearty until Pentecost… keep it alive until then…

BMD

Saturday, 18 March 2017

17 March… St Gerasim of the Jordan and the Arrival of the Rooks in Slavic Folklore… With an Excursus on the Evil Spirit Kikimora

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In Russia, this holyday coincided with time of arrival of the rooks. Because of this, the people called it “St Gerasim the Rook-Keeper Day”. The people said:

  • If you see a rook, spring is on its way.
  • I saw a rook, so, spring has come.

In folklore, the behaviour of the rooks on this day predicted how spring would go:

If the rooks return to their old nests, it’ll be a good spring. The ice will melt all at once.

However, if the rooks arrived earlier than 17 March, it was a bad omen. It predicted a lean and hungry year. In order to speed up the arrival of balmy days, peasants baked little rooks made of rye flour… “грачей” (grachei: rooks).

Another legend about this day was:

St Gerasim the Rook-Keeper brought the rooks back to Rus; with this, Holy Rus throws out the witches.

On St Gerasim Day, people baked grachei as talismans against Kikimora (a pagan Old Russian mythological figure). In popular belief, she was a dwarf with a thimble; her body was thin as straw. She was ugly, with slovenly and disordered clothing. Her eyes were of different colours. With one, she gave the evil eye; with the other, she gave leprosy. A less-common belief was that Kikimora was a naked girl or one who wore nothing but a tunic, wielding a scythe.

Folklore said that if you saw Kikimora, it predicted trouble in your house. Peasants believed that Kikimora was the harbinger of death in a family. People feared Kikimora and did everything that they could, no matter how difficult, to keep her away. On St Gerasim Day, people believed, Kikimora was quiet and placid; they could kick her out of the house. On other days, they protected themselves against Kikimora with prayers and talismans. The best talisman against Kikimora was a куриный бог (kuriny bokh: chicken god), a stone with a natural hole in it (that is, a hole not bored by a person). Besides this, people hung broken jugs over the flap covering the chicken coop to protect the birds against Kikimora.

Kikimora was just one of the household spirits from Old Russian paganism. She feared juniper branches, so people hung them around the house, even wrapping juniper twigs around the salt-cellar to protect it so that she wouldn’t spoil the salt, as it was very expensive in olden days. If Kikimora rattled the dishes and made noise, then, people had to wash the dishes in water and sprinkle the juniper branches to make her go away. Then, people searched for any foreign object that Kikimora may have placed in the house. They had to remove it carefully from the house and throw it away… it was even better to burn it. Superstition had it that if someone wanted to harm another, they’d leave a cursed object in the house. To remove the curse, you had to remove the object. Folklore had it that if you swept the floor with a wormwood broom, unholy things couldn’t bother you, including Kikimora. This was one of the most powerful talismans. People thought that the pungent smell of this herb repelled evil force and evil people.

17 March 2017

Russia-Российская Федерация

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Sunday, 17 March 2013

17 March 2013. RIA-Novosti Infographics. The Traditions of Celebrating Maslenitsa

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. The Traditions of Celebrating Maslenitsa. 2013

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On 11 March, Maslenitsa began in Russia… the last seven days before the onset of Lent. Maslenitsa is one of the most exciting, colourful, and lively folk holidays, which, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with paganism, but rather has a direct relationship to Orthodox Easter. Archpriest Maksim Kozlov, a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy (MDA), told RIA-Novosti, “The time to celebrate Maslenitsa is tied to Easter, for Maslenitsa, the last week before Lent, begins exactly eight weeks before Easter. In terms of church canons, Maslenitsa is a half-holiday. During Maslenitsa, we don’t eat meat, but you can eat every other non-Lenten food, including dairy products… abstinence on Wednesdays and Fridays is cancelled. During Maslenitsa, services on Wednesday and Friday are particularly long, just like in Lent, with many prostrations. The idea behind the canons is to gradually bring Christians into Lent”. Meanwhile, pancakes, once perceived as a pagan symbol of the sun, with the Christianisation of Rus, became the traditional festive meal in “Cheese Week“, just as kulich and paskha cheese (click here and here for recipes) celebrate Easter, the Resurrection of Christ.

11 March 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/infographics/20130311/179940165/The-Traditions-of-Celebrating-Maslenitsa.html

http://ria.ru/infografika/20130311/926081600.html

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