Bread and salt – part 2

The sacredness of “bread & salt” was manifested in the customs of our Slavic ancestors. Thus, in Russia there was a ban on swearing and lying if bread & salt were on the table. And to confirm the truthfulness of the oath, the Russians pronounced “honest bread and salt”, and the Bulgarians “хлеба и солта ми” (“my bread and salt”). Hence the idea of the purifying properties of “bread-salt”: in Polesie region they were placed in “dezha” (special wooden tub for sourdough bread making) to cleanse it; in Ukraine they were given to a woman prior to the first visit to church after giving birth, etc.

“Bread and salt” were widely used in wedding ceremonies. Among the Eastern Slavs, Bulgarians, Poles, matchmakers came to the bride’s house with bread and salt. If the offer of the matchmakers was accepted, the bride’s parents gave them bread and salt in return. The closest female relative or matchmaker circled three times with bread and salt around the parents’ hands, securing the decision on the engagement. Then the matchmaker broke the bread, saying: “The deed is done and sealed with bread and salt” (Yaroslavl region).

With the blessing of the groom and the bride, the Belarusians used to say: “I bless you with bread, salt, happiness, destiny and good health”. The Bulgarians wished the engaged couples to stay together like bread and salt. In Poland, the newlyweds at home after the wedding walked around the table three times with bread and salt, after which the wife kissed the corners of the table and put the bread on the “pech” (the fireplace for cooking and heating).

To be continued…
Bread salt

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

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

Comb in the Slavic tradition – Part 1

A comb was traditionally regarded by Slavs as sharp, pricking apotropaic object as well as female and erotic symbol. Due to its frequent teeth and contact with hair, it was also endowed with producing properties.

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 … 😉

According to Bulgarian customs, the girl hid her comb from strangers, since it could be used to hex the owner. Thus, after combing, she would immediately wrap the comb in a towel and put it in a secret place. In Belarus, people were not allowed to leave the comb in an open place, believing that this could cause trouble. In Poland, if a comb fell on the floor, people would guess which visitor to expect – frequent or rare (depending on the frequency of the comb teeth).

In girls’ divination and in love magic, the comb symbolized a girl or was an attribute of a groom. In the Vologda region, the girls hung a comb outside the window and chanted: “My betrothed, come and comb your hair!”. In Polesie region, on Kupala night, the girls made a comb of “ant oil” and combed guys with it to bewitch.

“The Catalogue Of Rudolph’s Magic” (13th century) says about divination ritual using a comb by Slavs in Silesia: «They prepare water and put it together with a comb, oats and a piece of meat with these words: “Come, Satan, take a bath, comb your hair, give oats to your horse, and meat to your hawk, and show me my husband”». In Eastern Serbia, around a new year, girls would put fragments of a comb, a piece of coal, soot, a mirror, etc. under the shards: whoever pulls out a comb fragment will get a groom “with teeth”. The comb was given to the bride at a Russian wedding; among the Serbs, the mother-in-law always gave the daughter-in-law a comb along with other gifts.

To be continued…

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

Slavic comb