January 01, 2009

Cookies for Carolers



Cookies for Carousers

 

By the time you read this column, the holiday season will have passed. But the calm of late January gives us time to ruminate on some of the rituals the winter holidays once involved. Long before Christianity took hold in Russia, the winter solstice marked a time of sacrifice to Rod, the pagan god of fertility and light. Even after the Church was established, pagan practices did not quickly disappear – the Russians still found ways to celebrate light in the season of darkness. Two Russian rituals in particular endured well into the twentieth century: kolyadovaniye (caroling) and ryazheniye (mummery).


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