In the everyday life of the Russian people, pagan festivals and rituals were preserved for centuries, preserving the traditions of the ancient cults of fertility and veneration of ancestors. Some of them are known today. In the national agricultural calendar pagan festivals intricately intertwined with Christian.
The winter holiday of the Nativity of Christ merged with pagan saints. At Christmas people dress up in costumes, in animal skins and masks, wanting to deceive the evil spirits, which is believed to have at this time come to «the light» and are of particular strength. With noise and fun people threw away their evil spirits, so the holiday was cheerful, wild, with songs and fun.
Hymen-fortune-telling was to predict the future harvest and litter of cattle. But most of all girls were guessing at future marriage. There were dozens of different ways of guessing. For example, at night the girls «broke the snow». Slowly they went out the gate, turned in the direction from where the wind was blowing, and threw snow against it. If the snow fell quickly and with a loud sound, then that foreshadowed an early marriage with a young guy. If the snow fell dully and crookedly, then the bridegroom is deaf and old. Throwing snow on the tablecloth, the girls said: «To the field, the snow was white in the field. Bark, bark, little dog, get to know the betrothed.” Then the girls listened to where and how the dogs barked in a voice. Harshish barking — will be a narrowed old man, loud and sonorous — will be young. In which direction the barking is heard, the groom will appear with that.
At the same time, magical rituals were performed, which were supposed to ensure fertility. The boys went to their houses with mittens full of grain, and «sowed» it. At the same time, songs that glorified the hosts were performed. Children were given pies and sweets.
Known to this day, the carnival is very ancient, pagan. In ancient times, carnival was associated with the remembrance of ancestors: hence the custom of eating pancakes — funeral food. At the same time, carnival recalled the arrival of spring. Burning a straw effigy, personifying the winter, was accompanied by fun and contests.
In the spring, when nature awakens and we had to take care of the future harvest, the villages staged «Yarilin festivities.» At this time, it permitted drunkenness and reckless fun.
Under the influence of Christianity instead of Yarila began to honor St. Julius (George), who was also considered the patron of the harvest and fertility of livestock.
On the mermaid week, which was celebrated together with the Christian Trinity in the early summer, worshiped water and plants. Women woven wreaths and throwing them into the water. In the village brought the decorated birch tree, under which arranges entertainment.
The summer holiday of Ivan Kupala (Christmas of John the Baptist) was one of the most cheerful and rampant. The night before the Ivanov’s day boys and girls wove wreaths themselves, diluted forest fires, circle dances. Jumping through the fire, they seemed to sacrifice themselves to the gods. This is how the ancient chronicle wrote:
«On the eve of St. John the Baptist in the evening going to the common people, boys and girls, and weave themselves garlands of edible herbs and roots, kindle the fire, next to him put a green branch, and, hand in hand, lead dances around the fire, singing songs. And then they jump over the fire, Kupala himself is sacrificed himself. When is the night, then go to the river with a great crowing, wash with water.”
It was believed that in Ivanov’s day, nature reveals all its life-giving forces. At midnight blooms for a moment fern; the person who found the flower of the fern became omniscient: he could see the treasures hidden beneath the earth, understand the languages of animals and plants.
In August, celebrating the Perun (Ilyin) day. In ancient times it was a somber holiday, which did not sing cheerful songs, circle dances, and offered sacrifices to the terrible god. On this day people were expecting thunder and rain. According to popular belief, from this day the water in the rivers becomes colder, it is forbidden to swim. They said: «Ilya has come, he let the ice free».
When harvesting was over, the Russian peasants until recently remembered the god Veles and sacrificed the last ears of the harvest to him.
Many legends of Slavic antiquity were preserved in everyday signs connected with the house and the dead. After death, people close their eyes with copper heels: the ancient Slavs believed that a dead man with open eyes would look out for someone else to drag to the next world. Often you can hear a very old saying: «The dead are not spoken badly.» Why, in fact, you cannot speak ill of the dead? According to the views of the Slavs, the souls of the deceased were invisibly present at home and could even interfere in the affairs of the living. Hearing the bad things to themselves, they could get angry and take revenge on the one who told them, having caused illness on him or making some trouble.
Not accepted to greet or say goodbye on the threshold, because the power of housekeeper of peace and warmth of the family hearth, extends only to the door of the house, and the threshold ruled by alien forces that could interfere with friendly wishes and cause strife. Adopted at the housewarming first run over the threshold into a new apartment cat. Slavs believed cat animals dedicated to houses, often it even represented the owner of the house, and its behavior in the new home was tried, which will habitation.
Finally, many people today are hammering the horseshoe over the door of the house — «for luck», hardly knowing that they are passing the house under protection of Dazhbog the Sun and his horses, which according to the Slavs believed to bring luck to the house.
Such evidence can be preserved antiquity cited. In them — our inextricable link with the ancestors. From the depths of time, they continue to live with us and in a way to protect against evil and hostile forces. Slavic mythology, having entered the Russian epics and fairy tales, became an integral part of culture and nurtured the creativity of our people. It is important not to lose blood-inheritance. From the «traditions of the past deep» one can draw wisdom and spiritual strength.