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Christmas rituals: the new life of the pagan tradition

In the peasant calendar, the main winter holiday was the Christmas Eve, which lasted two weeks, starting with Christmas Eve. The Christmas Eve was completed on the day of Baptism. It was a kind of transition from old to new year. At this time, various holy rituals were performed. These rites are rooted in ancient antiquity and associated with paganism. The character of this holiday was influenced by Christianity.

The main Christmas holidays are Christmas, Vasiliev's Day or New Year and Baptism. It was on these days in the evening and holy rituals were performed. In every house, ritual food was prepared for the souls of the deceased, and after dinner they left it on the table. For frost, a treat was put on the threshold or window. It was believed that without this in the new year a good harvest will not grow.

Holy tradition was not limited only to the feeding of the souls of the deceased ancestors. For example, at Christmas, a round ceremony of the Glory of Christ was performed. This rite was associated with ensuring a high harvest in the coming year. For the same purpose, New Year's Day, people from the house to the house went to the carols and sang songs of congratulations to the hosts. For this it was supposed to give generously to caroling people.

The rituals were performed mostly by young boys and girls. Christmas trees were generally considered to be a youth holiday, as adults three days after the holiday were already returning to their daily work, and the youth, free from work, continued to entertain. At this time, the formation of married couples was active.

In all the evenings, except Christmas Eve, youth games were held, where guys and girls looked at each other. Even at this time, young girls were invited to visit their friends or relatives who lived in large villages, where they attracted the attention of the guys not only with bright outfits, but also with how they could dance, sing or just talk. But at the same time, girls had to behave modestly.

Some rituals for Christmas trees were associated with fortune-telling. In every house, in the evenings, they were wondering about the harvest, and the girls were guessing at the groom. Guys, though rarely, but also wondering, trying to find out about the future wedding. Usually, in the last laziness of Christmas, bridegrooms passed, after which the time of weddings came. All these events turned holy holidays into a very emotional action. The Russian people linked the coming of the new year with the birth of the sun and believed that it was the Christmas season that formed the fate of each person and nature for the next year. It was believed that with the help of divination it is possible not only to predict the fate, but also, if the prognosis was unfavorable, to change it. For example, it was done during the preparation of ritual porridge for the New Year. The birth of the new year among the Russian people was associated with the transition from darkness to light, therefore all the holy rituals were performed in the dark time of the day - in the evening or at night.

Christmas trees were divided into holy and terrible evenings. Holy evenings lasted from Christmas to New Year. That is, before Vasiliev's day, and terrible - from New Year's Eve to Epiphany. It was believed that in terrible evenings an impure force is born , flies out of the pipe creates revelry and outrage. Therefore, during this terrible time various ritualistic rites were performed. Defending not only people and livestock, but also the whole economy.

Russian Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, trying to root out paganism in 1649 issued decrees prohibiting divination, but could not completely eradicate these traditions. In order to find out about destiny and perform rituals, people tightly pulled curtains and locked themselves in a hut or a bathhouse, or at all went into the forest. Some holy traditions have proved so tenacious that they have survived to this day.

Here again the question arises: Orthodoxy is Christianity or yet paganism?

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