Pants in Slavic tradition – Part 2

The old photograph of the last century depicts a barefoot Russian peasant who sows linen, while carrying seeds in his pants instead of a bag or basket. Why do you think he is doing it like that?

This ancient Slavic tradition of ensuring the plentiful harvest of flax came to us thanks to the Soviet anti-religious propaganda marked as “savage ritual” 🙂 So what is really shown on the picture?

The producing fertility power was attributed to the pants, so they were constantly used in maternity, wedding, agricultural and cattle breeding ceremonies by Slavs. In the Ryazan region, while sowing, the owner carried seeds in his own pants. Polish people believed that “double” ears (spica) could grow from grains passed through the pants of the sower. In Kaluga region cannabis seeds were poured into special pants so that cannabis would be stronger, these pants were carried on the shoulder, and after sowing, they were hung in a barn on a high hook – so that cannabis “would be poured to the top”. By the way, hemp/cannabis was used to make the best ropes very popular among the sailors and at some point, Russia was supplying the whole world with these ropes for ships 😉

To attract grooms and matchmakers to the village, in the Volga region around New Year people stole pants from someone’s backyard where clothes were drying, and then dragged them around the village. In Polesie, a family which had a girl of marriageable age, would draw a circle around their house with pants, so the girl would get married. Men’s pants were tied to the table during the matchmaking, so that the bride would agree to marry.

Source: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Photo: Museum fund of Russia https://goskatalog.ru/

Sowing

Pants in Slavic tradition – Part 1

Pants today are a common attribute of clothing for adults and children, but this was not always the case. According to Slavic tradition, both girls and boys wore only a long shirt up to 5-8 years old.

The boys were given their first pants as a symbol of maturity and coming into an age. Usually, this was coincided with a big holiday. For example, in Serbia, the boys would put on their first pants and tie them with a belt on St. George’s Day (Ђурђевдан), which was a celebration of fertility and marked the final awakening of nature and the beginning of the agriculture season. In Bulgaria, the boys received a special blessing for wearing pants from their godfather. The Russians believed that making the first pants could predetermine the fate of a child. Therefore, the mother had to make the first pants for her son in one sitting, so that he would subsequently be successful in all his affairs, got easily engaged with a bride, etc.

Pants often served as a talisman. In Polesie region, to protect livestock from plague, people would drag pants along the spine of an animal. On the Kupala night, pants were hung on the gates to protect home against witches. Eyes of pigs and cows were rubbed with men’s pants, so they would not be afraid of any curse.

In the Yaroslavl region, if a woman had newborn children dying, then the “midwife babka” was to ensure that the next child was delivered directly into the father’s pants so that baby would have a long life. In some other places, among Russians, it was customary immediately after birth to wrap a child in dirty father’s pants so that he would be healthy and enjoy the love of his father in the future.

To be continued…

Slavic pants

Forest in the Slavic tradition – Part 2.

Numerous traditional medicine magical practices are associated with the forest. Also, the forest is the habitat of demons and the place where people interact with “dark forces”. In order to find out the cause of an illness from the Leshy, the healers in Olonets region went to the forest, found a rowan tree, split its trunk in half and left inside a letter for Leshy with questions.

We continue to familiarize you with the customs and beliefs of the ancient Slavic people, while working on the animated fantasy comic book series. In such posts, as if jumping forward in time, we shed light upon and help to understand the events that will occur in our story … 😉

In the Northern Russia, on the day of Ivan Kupala, before sunrise, women went into the forest and made a “treasured” broomstick, which brought prosperity to the house. According to the beliefs of Slavs of Polish Pomerania, a person who dares to go into the forest on Easter night, approach a birch tree going backwards, and then break a branch – will get a magic wand.

The question of gathering herbs in the forest on Kupala night in the XVII century was included in the Christian confession: “Did you dance or do anything outrageous before the John the Baptist holiday? Did you go to the forest to collect herbs and roots?” (Almazov A. “Secret Confession in the Orthodox Eastern Church”, 1894)

Source: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Forest in the Slavic tradition – Part 1.

The forest stood right outside the yard fence of our ancient Slavic ancestors. Forest provided food and clothing, tools and household items were made of wood. In many ways, the forest determined the way of life of the Slavic tribes. At the same time, it was considered as remote, impassable and vast place. In their beliefs, the Slavs opposed the forest to the home, associated it with “the other world” and saw it as the habitat of the Forest Master (Leshy) and other mythological creatures.

The forest was a place of miracles and esoteric rituals. According to the Slavic tales, deep in the forest, as far from human settlements as possible, a magical fern flower can be found: “If you want to do sorcery, you have to go deep into the forest on Kupala night, far away from the settlement, so no rooster cry can be heard… And if the fern flower blooms and you grab it … then anything you can think of can be done. But all evil”.

To be continued…

Forest

Comb in the Slavic tradition – Part 2

Slavs also used the comb in reproduction magic. Going to the first seeding, the Serbs and Macedonians would put it in a bag of seeds or stirred seeds prepared for sowing with it, so that the spike of wheat / rye would have “frequent grains” like the teeth of a comb. The Croats, before taking the cattle for sale, combed it and pronounced: “Koliko zubaca, toliko kupaca” (“How many teeth, so many buyers”). After combing the sheep, the Russians threw the broken comb and the wool back into the sheepfold so that animals would have more wool.

We continue to familiarize you with the customs and beliefs of the ancient Slavic people, while working on the animated fantasy comic book series. In such posts, as if jumping forward in time, we shed light upon and help to understand the events that will occur in our story … 😉

All Slavs used the comb as a talisman against evil spirits, curses, diseases, wild animals, etc. The Serbs protected newborns from Veshtitsa (Вештица – Witch) and other demons with one or two combs, put on both sides of a child head. Therefore, Veshtitsa would prick herself if tried to approach the baby. The Eastern Slavs used to put a comb or a spindle in a cradle so that a baby could sleep peacefully.

A comb was also used for hexing others. The Serbs for example, would put two combs on both sides of the road on the wedding day, and when the young couple passed, they connected and hid those combs: after that, the couple would have arguments for all their life. The Russians of the Novgorod region believed that sorcerers performed all their malicious actions with the help of a comb. The Macedonians believed that women who had violated the ban on work in the evenings, were drowned in the water or brushed with large combs by Karakondzhulas (Караконцол). Interestingly, the comb is an attribute of many mythological creatures: goddesses (boginka), mermaids, female water spirits, etc., who usually combed their long hair in a story.

Source: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Slavic comb