As nobles and aristocrats celebrated Christmas, we can still imagine. A magnificent Christmas tree in candles, beautiful toys, rich gifts, champagne and a table full of food.
But all this entourage is inspired by the West, however, like our modern one. As the main Christian holiday was celebrated by the common people, no one will even remember. We heard about sochivo, carols and the custom of guessing the night before Christmas.
Only our ideas, alas, are very blurred. Yet Christmas in Russia was given the same importance as in the Catholic world.
Traditions that existed before the adoption of Christianity, kept peasants. Pagan rituals, which over the centuries organically intertwined with the Orthodox faith, helped them to stay closer to nature, overcome the winter blues and survive the cold.
And how do we solve this problem? At best, we go to visit each other, and at worst – we sit all weekend in front of the TV or wrap ourselves in a blanket with a dull look.
Our children take with us an example and languish from boredom at our side. The peasants used much more effective recipes and knew how to enjoy the holidays from the heart.
At Christmas in Russia just no one missed. On the contrary, unbridled merriment reigned around, fervent songs sounded, laughter was heard. And today, nothing prevents us from touching the ancient layer of Slavic culture and filling the Christmas holiday with new meaning.
And if some rites and traditions seem strange or difficult to implement, they can always be modernized.
Before the revolution, Christmas in Russia was celebrated on the night of December 24-25 (old style). But one day walking was not limited.
On Christmas Eve, before the start of the main church service, Christmas Eve was celebrated. It started with Christmas time, which lasted 12 days and, apart from Christmas, covered two more winter holidays – New Year and Baptism.
This time period is directly related to the solar calendar, more precisely, to the winter solstice, which falls on the night of December 21-22. Like all nations, the Slavs treated such astronomical phenomena carefully. If only because it was impossible not to feel the longest nights and short days of the year.
There is little light during the day, it is freezing outside, and vitamins are running out. Our ancestors had to really tight. Survival in the dark and cold season helped them caroling – the main winter Slavic ritual, timed to coincide with the Christmastime.
According to one version, the word “kolyada” itself means “winter sun”. In any case, it was the sun, which was so lacking, that the peasants tried to wake up in themselves. The worst thing was to get sick and lie down in bed, because there was little chance of getting up.
To endure until spring, it was necessary to laugh and move as much as possible, so all the rituals associated with the celebration of Christmas-tales were designed to raise the level of adrenaline in the blood. We definitely have something to learn from our ancestors, and at the same time you can have fun with the whole family in the New Year holidays.
Especially if you already become boring tree, Santa Claus and snowmen.
- The peasants kolyadov not only on the night before Christmas, New Year and Baptism, but at any other time at Christmastime. In the mornings, children went around the house with songs (carols), in the evening they were replaced by adults. As a sign of gratitude, the hosts carried out a noisy swell of bacon, pies, gingerbread
- Kolewschiki certainly used masquerade elements: they lined up at the gentleman and mistress, played with their participation comic scenes. But the main ritual character was a goat (or goat). This hoof was found in every peasant house and was valued above the cow in the village. The goat, after all, gave not only milk and meat, but also wool. And her presence at the festival was obligatory. Either one of the carollers dressed as a goat, wearing a sheepskin coat turned inside out, or a wooden goat on a long pole was carried over the crowd. A good omen was considered to touch her.
- The fun was collective, but closer to the night the adults kept the children off to bed. And then began a real rampant. It is because of the dubious games with erotic overtones that the church was ambiguous about the Christmas festivities. True, no less than the peasants, and large and small, loved scary fun. It was common for guys to hide in a dark alley and frighten passers-by to death to scream with wild cries. And the most popular was the game in the “dead”. The man who portrayed the dead man lay down on the bench and closed his eyes. The rest of the participants led round dances around him until, at some point, he did not come to life and did not start chasing them all over the hut. Emotions beat over the edge! The one whom the “dead man” caught was laid down in his place, and the game began on a new one. All succumbed: it was believed, if you die in the game, it means that long life is guaranteed.
- Closer to Svyatka necessarily did charms. The father of the family selected the largest straw and made from it a huge standing doll with a head and a triangular body, which symbolized a sundress. Neither the eye, nor the mouth, nor the nose of the effigy traced. According to custom, when the carols approached the hut, all the children in the house had to hide behind this doll and sit quietly until they left. And although they did not let the carols into the house and kept them in the passage, they had the opportunity to look into the open door. If a kid ran out of his shelter or stuck his head out of curiosity, the head of the family was very angry. If carols saw children, it was considered a bad omen.
Roes are Arkhangelsk gingerbread in the form of the main ritual animal goat. First, they became popular in the North, then the tradition moved to other regions.
The dough was done in two weeks. The glaze was necessarily colored, but it was tinted with only natural dyes, such as beetroot or carrot.
At Svyatky peasants liked to gather by candlelight around the den. This portable mini-theater was a wooden box, often with two or three floors.
They symbolized the earth and heavenly worlds. At the bottom there were slots that allowed the puppeteer to move around the scene of their characters. Folk tragedies were set up on biblical subjects in the dens.
The most popular was the “Death of King Herod.” True, only the name was tragic.
In fact, the performance turned into a hilarious comedy and caused Homeric laughter to the audience.
It was believed that in the Christmas week the spirits are very close to the person, and our ancestors always used this circumstance. They were guessing everywhere, but the occupation was purely female. Guys, like modern men, acted as skeptics – they teased and made fun of silly young ladies.
There were many variants of divination, the most beloved one was to throw a felt boot and find out which side to wait for the betrothed.