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