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What traditions and rituals of the life cycle of the Slavs came from pagan times
What traditions and rituals of the life cycle of the Slavs came from pagan times

Since the time of paganism, the ancient Slavs had many different traditions and rituals. Most of them were closely associated with certain events in the life cycle of people. The most revered among the people were the first and last rituals and ceremonies in a person's life - at his birth and sending him off to another world.

Slavic traditions and rituals at the appearance of a child

Among the Slavs, like most other peoples who were at that time at a certain stage of their cultural development, the birth of a child was accompanied by a number of special rituals and ceremonies. All of them, according to historians studying Slavic traditions and everyday life, could be conditionally divided into 2 types: hygienic (diet, prevention, etc.) and mystical or sacred (beliefs and traditions). And if the former are fairly well studied, since most of them have been passed down from generation to generation and have survived to this day, the latter, for various reasons, for the most part have been lost over the centuries.

Many traditions of the Slavs have survived to this day

Some of them nevertheless became known to researchers largely due to the late church teachings, as well as the traditions of oral transmission of folklore. Although in this case, quite often the original meaning of a particular ceremony was often irretrievably lost. And yet, in some regions of modern Russia, you can still find the remains of some unusual ancestral rites of the ancient Slavs.

Rituals for expectant mothers

In Russia, since ancient times, it was firmly believed that much in the future child (beauty, physical health and strength, luck and luck) directly depends on how the person who is preparing to become a mother in the last stages of pregnancy and immediately before childbirth behaves and does. As a rule, all this was "supervised" by midwives. Moreover, if a woman was not the first to give birth, then the midwife was invariably invited the same one that helped her first child to be born.

The grandmother-midwife supervised the process of childbirth among the Slavs

To keep the skin of children clean after birth, expectant mothers were instructed to eat a lot of cabbage. They were also forced to drink milk and consume dairy products throughout their pregnancy. His mother could provide a healthy blush on the cheeks of the unborn child by using red fruits and berries in the last months before childbirth.

A child in a peasant family in Russia after growing up was a good help to parents in household and household chores. Most often, children from an early age were taught to graze poultry and livestock. Thus, they were introduced to work from an early age. At the same time, the Slavs believed that laziness can settle in a child even in the womb. To avoid this, the woman was forbidden not only to sleep a lot during the demolition, but even just to lie in bed.

Ancient rituals for women in labor

To facilitate childbirth, the midwives used several “recipes”. Firstly, when the process was just beginning, all doors and windows were opened in the room. It was believed that in this way all obstacles to the arrival of a new soul and its introduction into a newborn were removed. Also, through the open windows and doors, the midwives drove out all unclean spirits that could prevent a woman in labor from giving birth to a healthy baby. Before giving birth, the expectant mother must untie all possible knots on her clothes, undo all the buttons, and also loosen her hair.

The life of women in labor in Russia. 19th century engraving

During childbirth, if the contractions were especially hard, the midwives helped the woman in labor with the help of charmed water or dough.To alleviate the suffering, grandmothers kneaded dough with which they smeared the belly of a woman in labor. At the same time, special incantations were pronounced and prayers were recited. A woman in labor could be given a little drink of holy (or infused with celandine) water.

Rituals for a newborn

Immediately after giving birth, the midwife “helped” the newborn with a slap on the back to take its first breath. If, for some reason, the baby did not show signs of life, the village midwives performed the "rebirth" rituals. The child was dragged through the pre-prepared clothes of the parents: boys - through the father's shirt, girls, respectively - through the mother's.

Some ancestral rituals in Russia were very unusual

One of the most unusual rituals in the event that the child immediately after birth did not show signs of life or was excessively lethargic was the ritual of "bothering" the newborn. To do this, the midwife coated the baby with the charmed dough and put it in the cooling oven. Thus, the baby was, as it were, “completed” or “altered”. After the successful completion of the ceremony, the midwife tossed the child several times, whispering special conspiracies and prayers.

Unusual Slavic rituals for the deceased

Since ancient times in Russia, seeing off the deceased to another world has been revered by people no less than the appearance of a person into this world. In different regions, there were various rituals with the help of which the deceased was helped to completely and calmly complete his mortal earthly path. The only thing that was unchanged among all Slavs (unlike some other peoples) at the funeral was grief, tears and even sobbing for the deceased.

In Russia, funerals have always been accompanied by grief

Death even among the pagans was considered a kind of gift to man from higher powers. It was impossible to "look out" or wait, let alone bring it closer. As in Christianity, among the ancient Slavs, who worshiped their pantheon of gods, suicide was considered one of the most serious sins. At the same time, although it was impossible to wait for their death - the old people were supposed to properly prepare for it: to buy specially or sew “for death” clothes and shoes.

Many of the rituals that the pagan Slavs performed on the deceased not only survived to this day, but are also observed in some regions of modern Russia.

The washing of the deceased

As after birth, after a person's death, the first ritual was his ablution. Moreover, this ritual should have been carried out no later than 2 hours after the person died. Both strangers and relatives of the deceased could wash the body. The only strict prohibition was the washing of the deceased mother with their children. As for the water used for the ceremony, it was considered "dead", and touching it could have a bad effect on a living person.

Funeral in Russia

It was customary to pour such water into places where neither people nor pets could step on it: under a fence or into dense barren bushes. An interesting fact is that if the water after washing the deceased was considered "dead", then the soap with which the body of the deceased was washed, on the contrary, acquired supposedly healing and even magical properties. It was stored and used for diseases of the hands or feet in humans, as well as some diseases of domestic animals. When we washed ourselves with this soap, we were sure to read spells. One of them was this: "Another person has gone into the world and nothing hurts him anymore, so nothing else will hurt me."

Overnight over the deceased

In many regions of Russia, after death, the deceased was obliged to spend one night in his home. At the same time, it was assumed that along with the deceased, the living would remain for the "overnight". Most often these were old grandmothers who belonged to the deceased (or deceased) relatives. The deceased was prepared for "spending the night" in the following way: after washing he was dressed in the clothes that had been prepared for burial, his legs and arms were tied, and the body was laid in the house on a wide bench. The "supper" was left on the table for the deceased.

Near the deceased in Russia spent "nights"

Those who came to "spend the night" had to be in the same room with the deceased until the sunrise. At the same time, they were supposed to read prayers all night and were not allowed to eat the prepared "supper". In the morning, after the arrival of relatives, the "night-timers" went out into the courtyard, where they began to sob and wail about the deceased.

Funeral rites of the Slavs

Since ancient times, most of the Slavic tribes have buried their deceased in the ground. Moreover, the relatives of the deceased were strictly prohibited from preparing the grave. The only thing that the family was obliged to do was to take breakfast to the diggers and treat them personally. In many regions, after the grave was ready, relatives had to “buy a place” for the deceased. To do this, immediately before burial, they threw some earth and coins into the pit.

In Russia, prayers saw off the deceased

In the coffin, along with the deceased, they often put “necessary” objects or tools for him. So, shoe masters were often given an awl and harsh threads, seamstresses - needles, weavers - weaving "shuttles". The pillow for the deceased was filled with fresh hay, as well as fragrant plants and herbs: thyme, juniper, pine needles, mint, and flat bread.

Most of the customs of the Slavs have remained unchanged for millennia. They were so entrenched in the consciousness and traditions of the people that even the Christian Church, after its arrival in Russia, did not begin to eradicate them as pagan remnants. And she simply adapted them to her creed.

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