July 01, 2006

The Celebration of Summer

When Pagan is new again 

Many centuries ago, the existence of those living in Eastern European lands was ruled by the rhythms of the seasons. The most important events involved changes in the natural world. The arrival of every new season was a magical moment, where cosmic forces burst to the surface, taking on a special significance and determining much of what was happening in the present and what would happen in the future. In this perpetual cycle of natural elements and phenomena, the Sun plays a tremendous role. 

When the Sun’s power is at a minimum, Earth is covered with snow and it was believed that ancestral spirits walked its surface, potentially coming into contact with the living, who may thus be able to find out what the future holds. This is at the end of December, a time when it was customary to dress in strange, animal costumes, to prepare foods fitting for a wake (or rather, pominki, in Russian) and leave them out for the departed to come and feast on it. Those who took part in the magical processions that went from house to house singing songs were rewarded with generous gifts of food – a mystical token of future prosperity and wealth. 

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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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