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The desire of people to look into the future is rooted deep in antiquity. This is evidenced by the archaeological artifacts of Ancient Egypt, Greece, Chaldea, and Ancient Rome that have survived to this day. Even in the Holy Scriptures - the Bible repeatedly mentions fortune-telling. Among the Slavic tribes prediction of the future has always been in charge of priests, healers, sorcerers, sorcerers and sorcerers. But according to popular belief, there are days of the year in which everyone who dares to come into contact with otherworldly forces can see their destiny ahead of time.
In Russia, in ancient times, Christmas divination was especially widespread in the era of "terem seclusion", when on long frosty evenings boyars and hawthorns, hay girls, whiling away the time, tried to look into the fateful future. Expecting marriage, each tried, at least with the help of evil spirits, to find out whom fate would send her to be her husbands, and what life awaited her ahead of her with this future husband.
And no matter how the church condemned these rituals, insisting that fortune-telling is an unclean thing, it was impossible to eradicate this custom.
All the sacraments of fortune-telling were carried out under the cover of night, closer to midnight. And it was considered the most prophetic on Christmastide evenings, on New Year's Eve and on Epiphany. For thousands of years, girls and women have been guessing for the future, for the betrothed, for the harvest, for the outcome of affairs, using various magical objects and different methods, this ritual custom has been passed on from generation to generation. Christmastide was the most critical, most dangerous period, when evil spirits were especially strong.
Christmas evenings in Russia began immediately after Christmas and continued until Epiphany, celebrated on January 19 in the new style. And although they are located between two great Christian holidays, their history of origin goes far back in the pagan past of the Slavic people. During the winter solstice, when the longest night and the shortest day of the year comes, it has been celebrated by the ancient Slavs as the birthday of the sun since ancient times.
And it has always been considered a luminary governing God's day, on which the future harvest, and the offspring of livestock, and the fertility of the mother land, and therefore the well-being of people, completely depended.
These days it was considered a good time to think about the future - and not only the harvest, but also about your personal life. To attract good luck, traditional festivities, funny jokes, games, dances and gatherings were instituted. Over time, all the Christmas-time plot games and songs, which originally had a magical meaning in their foundation, became just entertainment.
Terrible fortune-telling in RussiaIt has long been believed that holy days - Christmastide, are divided into two periods: from January 7 to 13 - holy evenings, and from January 14 to 19 - terrible.
The sacrament of fortune telling was considered a terrible mystery due to the fact that the other world was involved in the process, and the evil spirits had a real opportunity to take the fortuneteller to the next world. Such fortune-telling, rooted in pagan antiquity, was widespread in Russia a century ago. They were held when the old year ended and a new one began, that is, in the "transition period", where the new had not yet entered, and the old had not yet surrendered its powers.
For such rituals, as a rule, appropriate places were selected - this is a crossroads, and an ice-hole, and a bathhouse, and a barn. In a word, where the evil spirits accumulated. Based on this, only brave and determined girls participated in such rituals. And when going to such places, they necessarily took metal objects with them - a knife, a poker, a frying pan, which were considered a talisman against evil spirits.
As a rule, such fortune-telling was carried out under the supervision of an older experienced woman, who called evil spirits into contact with the following call: - and called the name of the girl who was bewitched.
In addition, this woman had to look after the girls in order to take timely measures to protect them, as well as introduce and bring them out of a state of prostration.
The most terrible Christmas fortune-telling was considered when the image appeared firsthand in front of the gaze of a fortune-telling girl with the help of mirrors, according to popular beliefs, having a connection with the other worlds. Opposed to each other, two mirrors in reflection created a corridor from which the constricted one was supposed to appear. And what is interesting, if the girl was not familiar with the future spouse, then she saw the face of her betrothed, and if she was familiar with him, then the back of her head
And there was also a fortune-telling based on listening, when a girl at midnight went to an ice-hole or to an intersection and listened to the sounds spreading through the village. The ringing of a bell or festive singing was a harbinger of an imminent marriage. The barking of a dog, also foreshadowing marriage, was also considered in different aspects: from which edge of the village the groom will be, what character he will have and how old he will be. But the knock of an ax and the sound of slamming boards, which was to death, was considered the worst omen.
Desperate girls went alone to the bathhouse and, wondering at their betrothed, should have felt someone's touch. If this happened, it means that the girl will be married this year, and no - sit in the girls for another year. In addition, if the hand felt smooth, then the groom will be a poor man, if shaggy - rich.
Sometimes, when fortune-telling on mirrors, a rooster was used, the cry of which was supposed to scare away the evil spirits that appeared in the mirror. So, seeing something terrible, the girl strongly squeezed the bird and it uttered a cry.
Christmas and Yuletide fortune-telling before Epiphany remains a popular custom today. Unmarried girls still want to look into the future and find out about their betrothed, using at the same time, perhaps, not such extreme methods of fortune-telling than before. Coffee grounds and tarot cards, wax and rings, matches and shoes, as well as seances are used.
And how the pagan ritual of meeting Kolyada turned into a Christmas rite of Orthodox Christians read here.