Sviatki

2:32 AM / Posted by Linda McGregory /

Sviatki refers to the yuletide or Christmas season. Prior to 1917, Sviatki ran from December 25, for 12 days until January 7. This period symbolized the time between Christ's Birth and Baptism. After 1917, with most of the rest of the world adopting the Gregorian calendar, December 25 (Julian) appears as January 7 (Gregorian). Today, Russian's enjoy a secular Christmas on December 25 (Gregorian) and their Church celebration on January 7 (Gregorian which appears as December 25 on the Julian or old calendar).
Prior to Tsar Peter the Great, the Muscovy calendar placed the first day of the new year on September 1. Peter, in 1699, determined that New Year's Day should be on January 1 and further ordered that all households would sport festive lights and a seven day feast would commence.
Very popular during Sviatki was the practice of mumming. Mummers were, typically, young folk who would dress up in colorful and clown like costumes. They would race through the streets of their village in their troikas, visiting and entertaining neighbors and friends with song, dance and games. Second only to Paskha (Easter) Sviatki was the most holy time of the year. It was, also, the gayest. Carols and folk songs, known as Kolyadki, were sung to herald Christ's Birth and the coming of a new year. Trees were decorated, gifts given and a great Christmas feast enjoyed by gatherings of family and friends.
During the years following the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) and the end of tsarist rule in Russia, Sviatki took on a different meaning and tradition. The Soviets sought to suppress and outlaw any and all forms of religious expression or celebration and either destroyed church buildings or converted them into public/governmental centers. Thus, the Nativity of Christ was replaced by an emphasis on the celebration of the winter solstice and new year. There remained, throughout the Soviet Era, groups of Russian Orthodox Christians who continued to celebrate and practice their faith and its holidays; but not without consequence.
Now Sviatki are associated with fortune-telling.
New Year and Christmas fortune-tellings.
Once the girls were having fun.
Threw the slippers - they were gone.
Off the gates the slippers fell -
So the girls their fortune tell
V.A. Zhukovsky
Fortune-telling or sorcery is a very interesting, enchanting process but dangerous one. The most favourable time for it fell on Sviatki. The best days for fortune-telling were considered to be the 13th and the 19th of January.
Fortune-telling by mirror
  • You need two big and equal mirrors to set them one opposite each other. Between them you place two candles so that there must be a long corridor lighted with candles. A person who does it must be alone or with somebody who is also interested in it. They must keep silense. No animals in a room. You sit in front of one mirror so that to see the reflection in another one. The moment you see your future groom you must cover the mirror with a cloth otherwise who knows what can happen...

Fortune-telling by a ring

  • Put a thread through a golden ring. Pour some water into a glass. Lower a thread with the ring into the glass with water. It'll begin to swing and knock against the borders. Count the number of strikes - they denote the age when you'll get married.

Fortune-telling by wax

  • Melt a piece of wax in a spoon and pour it into a cold water. Guess what the image means.

Fortune-telling by names

  • Write down all the male names you know on the pieces of paper and put them under your pillow. Before you fall asleep say "My fiance, come into my dream". You must see HIM in your dream. When you wake up in the morning, the first thing take a piece of paper under a pillow and find out the name of your future husband.

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1 comments:

Comment by pay per head on 5:15 PM, May 01, 2012

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