Foreword Kostroma – a Russian ancient city - is rich in many traditions Kostroma – a Russian ancient city - is rich in many traditions and festivals that date back to the ancient times. There are even some pagan long-standing holidays and traditions which are still observed. And some of them make our city unique. First of all Id like to tell you about the Christmas holiday season thats called Svyatki.
Svyatki Svyatki The Christmas holiday season (December 25 January 6) in The Christmas holiday season (December 25 January 6) in Russia was called Svyatki. There was no any other holiday celebrated in compliance with so many specific traditions, customs and ceremonies. The period of Svyatki includes both pagan and orthodox traditions such as fortunetelling, games, mummery, singing, dancing and worshiping. On December 24 Russian pagans praised Kolyada, the god of On December 24 Russian pagans praised Kolyada, the god of peace and feast. People, especially children, would put on costumes and go from house to house, singing their wishes for wealth and a good harvest. They expected small gifts of food, sweets or money in return for their efforts.
Fortunetelling is a part of Svyatki celebration. In the times of Fortunetelling is a part of Svyatki celebration. In the times of paganism fortunetelling was a way of worshiping to gods. Ceremonies of fortunetelling took place at night time. There were used eggs, mirrors and cards. Svyatki and New Years Eve have always been family holidays. Svyatki and New Years Eve have always been family holidays. There were baked traditional cakes with an image of a fir-tree cone. All the preparations for the holiday were begun beforehand, in November. People wrapped and decorated their presents to each other; they organized home concerts, prepared games and lotteries. People of all ages were engaged in merry skating and different competitions.
New Year and winter holidays New Year and winter holidays The Russians celebrate it in the night on the 31-st of December – The Russians celebrate it in the night on the 31-st of December – the 1-st of January. Today the majority of families have New Year trees at home. They decorate them with tinsels, toys and colorful lights. They put presents under a New Year tree. Russian people used to have a tradition to dress fancy costumes and go from house to house, sing Kolyadki and wish good luck to everyone. Listeners could give them small presents. As for my town Kostroma, its a home town of Maiden.
On the New Year eve Father Frost goes from Great Ustyug to On the New Year eve Father Frost goes from Great Ustyug to Moscow and on his way to the Russian capital he usually visits Kostroma to meet Maiden. Arrived in our city he and his granddaughter Maiden are involved in many different activities which take place in the center of Kostroma near the Fire Tower. A lot of citizens gather together there and have much fun. Father Frost and Maiden are very actual. They make presents for kids and kids love them.
Christmastide Christmas is celebrated on the 7-th of January. The days from Christmas is celebrated on the 7-th of January. The days from Christmas to the Epiphany are called Christmastide. The Russian used to get together and have a carnival, tell fortunes, make a snowman, build a townlet, play snowballs, climb a pole for a gift, wear fancy costumes, sing songs. Telling fortunes were very popular with young girls. And the most gallant people even swam in an ice hole. The day after Christmastide is called Epiphany. The Russian celebrate it on the 19-th of January.
The Epiphany is a Christian holy day in memory of the coming of The Epiphany is a Christian holy day in memory of the coming of three kings to see baby Jesus. Its the very old celebration in Russia. But traditions connected with these holidays have sunk in oblivion and today its just the good excuse to have a lot of fun, to drink and eat delicious food and make fireworks light up the sky.
Shrovetide Shrovetide The festival like Shrovetide is always observed and remembered The festival like Shrovetide is always observed and remembered about, though it has deep roots. When its Shrovetide people say farewell to winter and welcome to spring. Typical symbols of this festival are pancakes and a stuffed effigy thats always burnt. It includes Russian and foreign, pagan and orthodox traditions. For instance burning a stuffed effigy and playing games relate to pagan traditions. The Russians used to dance, sing songs and jump across a bonfire. Thats how they had fun! But I want to mention that Kostroma citizens still have fun on this festival like in the past. Shrovetide is celebrated late February – early March.
Spring holidays: Willow week Willow Week precedes Easter week; it is the sixth week of Lent. Willow Week precedes Easter week; it is the sixth week of Lent. Willow week symbolizes the coming of spring. On Willow Week in ancient times there were organized markets where people could buy toys, flowers, sweets and willow branches. On Willow Sunday (Palm Sunday) the willow was first consecrated in church, and then kept at home in front of the icons. It was a custom to tap each other with a sprig of willow, chanting: «The willow is beating you to tears. Its not me beating you; its the willow. The willow beats and makes you cry. White willow beats and it knows why. » This was thought to bring good luck. Consecrated willow was kept at home during the whole year. Consecrated willow was kept at home during the whole year. Sometimes it was used in folk medicine.
Easter Easter Another spring long-standing beloved in Kostroma festival is Another spring long-standing beloved in Kostroma festival is Easter. On this day people dye eggs in bright colors. Eggs are considered to be a symbol of new life and resurrection. By the legend, its prohibited to do any work on Easter and if you do it in spite of the legend, you wont get any positive results. The festival used to begin with the so called egg-fight. It was played by two people holding eggs who would bang them into one another, the one holding the unbroken egg would win. Sharing food on Easter has been a long tradition in Russia and in Kostroma too. Thats why after breakfast people usually visit their friends and neighbors and exchange eggs and small Easter breads. Strangely enough the weather on the Easter Day is usually very nice and sunny. "The sun plays", say the Russians. It is an old custom to open the cages and let birds go free on Easter.
Ivan Kupalo (John the Baptists Day) Ivan Kupalo was actually a rather thin veneer of Christian ritual Ivan Kupalo was actually a rather thin veneer of Christian ritual overlaying the pagan holiday of the summer solstice. John the Baptist became connected with this pagan festival because of his association with water. Pagan Slavs praised Kupalo the god of fertility. This holiday was celebrated from the 24th till the 29th of July. In the past young people used to swim in rivers till late at night, they burned fires and, holding each-others hands, jumped over the fires. If after the jump they still held their hands, it was a good sign; it meant that the wedding was close.
On John the Baptists Day people would go to the fields and On John the Baptists Day people would go to the fields and gather herbs. They had to pick 12 different kinds including thistle, fern, plantain and coltsfoot. On that day people washed their faces with dew, swam in rivers and lakes. That was done to be healthy. Even nowadays on John the Baptists Day people pick herbs and flowers.
And finally… Id like to add that we all should celebrate and observe the Id like to add that we all should celebrate and observe the holidays and traditions of our city. Because they connect us with the past, with our forefathers who celebrated them from time immemorial.