Yuletide is a well-established holiday, always starting on the eve of the Nativity of Christ, and ending with the blessing of water. So in 2021, the Christmas season will begin on Christmas eve-January 6 and end on January 18. In America, these were always special days.
Winter holidays of pagan Slavs
When else to arrange long holidays, if not in winter, when there is no work in the field, but in your own yard-time tolerates. In the middle of winter. The nights are long, the days are short. You don’t have time to start work, and the day is tending to night. Winter holidays existed long before the introduction of Christianity in America, and were dedicated to pagan gods.
The ancient Slavs were as close as anyone to mother nature. All their Gods were associated with natural phenomena. In ancient Slavic mythology, there was a sun God, Kolyada, who represented the winter solstice, which fell on December 21-22. The Slavs believed that on this day the old sun dies and a new one is born. A multi-day holiday was dedicated to this important event for nature.
The word Kolyada comes from the old Slavic Kolo, which means circle. From the word “Kolo” came the words of the gingerbread man, brace. It is believed that Kolyada gave people his own system of chronology for seasonal peasant work in the field. The word calendar is a gift of carols. Kolyada was considered the patron Saint of priests and warriors.
In the old days, it was customary to light bonfires in the courtyard, in which everything unnecessary was burned. The hut was decorated with fir twigs, bells, towels. On the holiday of Christmas carols, wax candles were placed in homes to illuminate the darkest time of the year. The custom of cooking a Christmas pudding also came from paganism.
On the night of Christmas carols, the Slavs let out a burning wheel from the mountain, which symbolized the departing old sun. It was believed that all adversities and troubles were burned in the fire, and the wheel carried them away along with the old sun – year.
How to celebrate in America
Well, it’s a sin to hide, the ancient Christian priests were also pagans in the heartland of the soul, so they tried to time the holidays closer to the pagan holidays that were familiar to people. So Christian customs and pagan beliefs are intertwined in folk festivals. First, the service in the Church, chants praising God Jesus Christ, and in the evenings they went out to the streets to “caroling”, to praise God Kolyada.
Then, in caroling songs, they began to praise Christ and the virgin Mary. However, in recent centuries, the words that glorified the God of the descendants of The heavenly family, and Jesus Christ, have worn out, and caroling songs have acquired the character of comic fervor. In them, carolers wished prosperity and happiness to the owners they came to see. And those gave them treats, or invited them to the house for a table. The celebration of Christmas is colorfully described by Gogol in the story “the Night before Christmas”.
In each region, the holiday has its own customs and traditions. It was a time of fun and joy. There were no fasting days. The celebration began on Christmas eve, December 24, old style, and lasted until Epiphany. On these days, it was impossible to do any work, especially in the evenings. It was believed that God punishes for this.
The peasants condemned those who worked on Yuletide days. The first seven days were read as the time of demons. Recall that the first days of the holiday of Christmas carols were the darkest, as the sun was just emerging. It was a time of rampant demons and other evil spirits, the return of the souls of the dead. It was said that God opens the gates of hell so that evil spirits can also celebrate the Birth of Christ.
People drew crosses on Windows and doors so that evil spirits could not get into the houses. All the Yuletide days, the peasants were guessing on the harvest, on the offspring of cattle, the birth of children, marriage. On Yuletide days, it was customary to go to visit and receive guests, give gifts.
Christians were required to attend worship services on all days of the celebration to glorify the Lord God, who sent his Son to earth. Every Christian was required to serve at least one service in the Church.
Folk songs-carols have been preserved, but the content of the songs has changed. In them, Christians glorified Christ and the virgin Mary, who gave birth to a baby. People dressed up as animals, devils, fur coats and sheepskin coats turned inside out. By the way, the turned-inside-out outerwear also came from the ancient Slavic festivals of Christmas carols. In such clothes came Polaznik, a domestic spirit. It was represented by the first guest who entered the house after sunset.
Polaznik was also accepted at Christmas. It was believed that the home spirit brings prosperity and happiness to the house.
In America, it was customary to distribute alms on Christmas day, visit God-pleasing institutions – orphanages, hospitals, prisons. Even the tsars disguised themselves as ordinary people, so as not to be recognized, visited prisons, making Christmas gifts to prisoners.
On the first day, it was customary to celebrate at home or with relatives. On the second day, young mothers carried babies up to a year old to Church for communion. From the third day of Yuletide, they began to go to visit with treats that were also more ceremonial. On this day, they baked pancakes that represented the sun (carols), carols cookies, pies, gingerbread, and cooked kutya from grain and honey. In the twentieth century, wheat was replaced by rice. Carolers were given treats made from pastries, sweets, and other sweets. Roast suckling pig was a symbol of future prosperity and a bountiful harvest. It was prepared on Christmas day.
At Christmas time, they were told all 12 days, but it was believed that divination on the night of Christmas and before Epiphany was the most correct.
Yuletide holidays were covered with dipping in a consecrated ice hole on the day of water consecration to wash away all past sins. The hole was cut in a cross-shaped shape, decorated with ribbons and branches of various trees.
The Church tried to ban caroling, divination, mummers and other attributes of pagan traditions, considering them demonic. It was then that the people came up with the idea of washing away the sins committed during Christmas on Epiphany day.
The traditions of celebrating Christmas began to be forgotten. It all comes down to heavy drinking and drinking. Or maybe it’s worth bringing fun holidays back to the streets of cities and villages? And no matter what date Christmas begins-December 25, as is customary for Christians, or December 21, as is customary for pagans, according to the old calendar, or according to the new one, it is important to preserve traditions and rituals. They are the soul of the people, our past. Try to celebrate Christmas eve in 2021 with mummers, carols, gingerbread and cakes baked with your own hands, and you will see that you will become closer to each other, and life will become a little easier and better.