1.1 Christmas and the guessing, New Year and old new year
1.2 Night of Ivan Kupala
1.3 Pancake week
1.4 New traditions: the Twenty Third of February and the Eighth of March
2. Representations about life cycle and the traditions connected to it
2.1. Ancient representations about a birth, death and the introduction into a marriage
2.2 Wedding traditions
3. Signs as a part of Russian culture
3.1 Role of signs in human life
3.2 Signs about the house and about domestic spirits
3.3 Household signs
In ordinary consciousness "culture" acts as the collective image uniting art, religion, science, traditions, etc. But in a modern science one of leaders is the anthropological principle, therefore it is important to remember, that the concept of culture designates the universal attitude of the person to the world through which the person creates the world. Each culture is the unique universe created by the certain attitude of the person to the world. Studying various cultures, we investigate not simply books, cathedrals or archeological finds, - we open for ourselves other human worlds in which people lived, though we lived differently. Each culture is a way of creative self-realization of the person. Therefore comprehension of other cultures not only gives us new knowledge, but also acquaints us with traditions, customs, world-outlook.
Tradition is that « that has passed from one generation to another that is inherited from previous generations (e.g., ideas, sights, tastes, an image of actions, customs) » (), therefore, speaking about Russian traditions, it is necessary to mention customs, ceremonies and traditional representations of Russian people, too. That allows us to unit such concepts as both customs and ceremonies that have symbolical character and differ repeatability. Traditional representations are included in a circle of cases in point as these representations have formed a basis for the given ceremonies and customs.
All over the world there is a danger that in the nearest future all cultures can appear similar. Movement to this featureless uniformity occurs already now. The preservation and observance of the Russian traditions connected to signs is not only practical advantage for a life and a life of the modern person, but also rescue of his cultural heritage.
The number of the traditions describing culture of the country includes both traditional representations about the world and the ceremonies connected to these representations, and holidays, both old and modern. Today many researchers pay attention to the Russian traditions, which are included in number of the most interesting ones, such as national signs, traditions of life cycle, Christmas and New Year and a number of other traditional holidays.
1. Russian holidays: old and new traditions
1.1 Christmas and the guessing, New Year and old new year
The beautiful and solemn holiday Christmas in Russia is closely connected to a meeting of New year. In spite of the fact that Christmas celebrate and in all other Christian countries, in Russia the holiday differs special traditions, characteristic only for our country.
In Russia eve of Christmas is on the sixth of January. This day is the final one the Christmas post. The word Christmas Eve – Sochelnik - occurs from a word ńî÷čâî. This is a ceremonial, ritual dish, which was obligatory for this evening.
Centuries ago the table was strewed hay, laid a cloth, in the center of a table they put a dish with twelve ritual dishes which should be equal to the number of apostles. On a celebratory Russian table there were pancakes, aspic, a fish, a pig with porridge, hot, honey gingerbreads by opportunities of family. On the Christmas Eve people did not eat all day long until the first evening star rose, symbolizing the star which once told us about Christ’ birth. In temples at these celebratory evening hours there was a solemn divine service... Despite of a church origin of a holiday, in Russia the custom of singing special songs called “kolyadki” under windows was kept.
Kolyada is a word of pagan origin. It symbolized worship the Sun giving fertility and pleasure, and in these songs people sang about natural phenomena: months, the sun, thunderstorms, wished a good crop, happy marriages.
Guessing is the important part of Christmas days. Priests, and then Slavic magicians were engaged in guessing, calling supernatural forces to open the future. Gradually this ceremony has firmly grown during a national life. It was possible to guess at any time, but as the real "true" was considered to be on " sacred days " - 12 days from January, 7 till January, 19. This tradition can be explained by the importance of guessing, first, to what on crisis of time of old and New Year of the person especially sharply interests the future. And second, during this period evil spirit - frights, banniks (special breed house, the malicious spirit settling in a bath) and others are most active and, hence, are more accessible to contact. In fact it was possible to receive from "evil spirit" the answer to questions during a guessing, and here the main thing to observe special rules of behaviour. Otherwise it is possible and to be lost.
After the establishment of the Soviet authority Christmas have ceased to play such important role, as it was a holiday religious. Therefore New Year received special popularity.
New year during pagan times was celebrated in Russia on March 22 – on the day of a spring equinox. With acceptance of Christianity in Russia the Byzantine calendar started to supersede gradually old. Now a new year began on September 1. And January 1 became a holiday in 1700 when tsar Peter I on the Red area has burnt a torch to the first New Year's rocket, having given a signal to opening festival and the statement of new custom. " On notable streets at a gate to make some ornament from trees and branches pine, fur-tree..." Illumination, burned fires and other amusements proceeded seven days.
People didn’t got used to a new holiday at once. But the tsar steadily watched that the holiday on January, 1 was celebrated diligently as in other European countries, and the annual calendar has fixed this transformation.
Was considered, that it will be the first day of the year. Therefore it was necessary to put at the New Year eve all new clothes, to postpone cares and to have fun with all the heart all night long. The house was decorated with a fur-tree. The custom to decorate a New Year tree is connected with the tradition of old Germanic tribes that spirits disappear in evergreen fur-trees, and that we should give them some gifts to make them kind. The first public fur-tree in Russia has been lit in 1852 on Ekateringofskaya station in Petersburg. The traditional heroes of New Year are Grandfather the Frost, who symbolizes generosity and kindness, and the Snow Maiden, a symbol of a youth, pleasure, fun.
And in connection with transition to new calendar style in Russia one more holiday has appeared - old New Year, therefore Russian traditions give us a unique opportunity to celebrate New Year two times a year.