Slavic yard as a place for rituals

Slavic people performed many rituals in the yard, to ensure the well-being of their home and household. In Serbia, during Kolyada (коледа) celebrations, people danced around a bread loaf, fibers for distaff and a piece of dry meat laid in the middle of the yard – imitating a struggle with invisible evil forces, expelling them from all buildings and corners of the house. Russians in Vladimir region on the day of the first pasture of cattle drove an aspen stake in the middle of the yard to protect cattle from misfortunes and diseases during grazing. Ukrainians, during the wedding, placed “dezha” (a wooden tub for sourdough bread preparation) in the middle of the yard and walked a young couple around it.

The ritual of “warming the dead” was widespread in southern Russia. During celebrations around winter solstice, people burned huge bonfires in the middle of the yard, believing that they “warm” the souls of their ancestors who wander around their homes at this time. In Polesie region, during the Rusalia week, the mothers of the dead girls took out clothes for them into the yard, waiting for the deceased daughter to appear in a form of rusalka. And if the clothes remained intact, then it was believed that their daughter-rusalka did not come.

What other rituals performed in the yard do you know?

More interesting facts can be found in: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Artist: Ivan Aivazovsky