Bread is a very important object in Slavic tradition. It has been used for celebrations, feasts, weddings and funerals since the pagan times. It was given as a sacrifice to gods and used as a method of asking for a fertile year, for example on Svetovid’s day priest would hide behind a pile of breads, and ask if people can see him, if they say no, he would say: “Hopefully next year will also be just as fertile as this one”, meaning the pile of breads would be just as big, enough to hide him. This custom is still present in a similar form in Christmas celebration in Herzegovina. In Russia and Poland wedding guests are greeted with bread and salt. In celebration of Slava, Serbs ritually break bread* and everyone should eat a piece of it. These breads are not ordinary, they are made with special recipes and often richly decorated. They are also used as food served on funerals and zadušnice**
*I will make a post about this some time later **translation would be (day)for the souls(of the dead), I will make a post about this as well.
Vesnyanki (веснянки) are ritual songs of the East Slavs, sung in the rites of invoking the spring (весна). This song is an example from Ukraine.
Ой, ти, соловейко, ти ранняя пташко, ти ранняя пташко, Ой, чого ж так рано з вирію вилітаєш, з вирію вилітаєш?
Ой, да ще по горах білі сніжки лежать, білі сніжки лежать. A ще по долинах цілі льодки стоять, цілі льодки стоять. Ой, да ще водиця не розливалася, не розливалася. Ой, да ще вербиця не розвивалася, не розвивалася.
Ой, а тії сніжки ніжками потопчу, ніжками потопчу, Ой, а тії льодки крилечками поб'ю, крилечками поб'ю, Ой, а ту вербицю дзьобиком розклюю,
Оh, you, nightingale you early bird, you early bird. Oh, why so early from Vyriy* you have flown away, you have flown away.
Oh, and still on the mountains white snow lies, white snow lies. And still in the valleys ice is whole, ice is whole. Oh, and still water didn’t flow, didn’t flow. Oh, and still willow didn’t sprout, didn’t sprout.
Oh, and that snow, with your legs you trample, with your legs you trample. Oh, and that ice, with your wings you strike, with your wings you strike. Oh, and that willow, with your beak you peck, with your beak you peck.
*Vyriy is name for otherworld in Slavic mythology, described as evergreen and warm
place where birds fly for the winter, and where souls resides before the birth and after death.
By accepting the new calendar, Slavs, with the rest of the European nations have dedicated the 5th day of the week to a female divinity. Friday to this day in the southern and eastern Slavic nations is revered in the likeness of a figure called Петка (Petka) or Пятница (Pyatnitsa). To the people, she is observed as the protector of women; first and foremost of pregnant ones, and the most protected women are the ones that pay her the most respect. She also becomes the one who punishes them if they work on a Friday. Her connection to the former high goddess is also evident though sacrificial rites. Offering of the sacrifices would occur near the spring, and would be mainly carried out by women. The women would bring her wooden idol and place it besides the spring, recite prayers and then offer fabric, hemp, and wool by throwing them into the water. In parts of Russia this type of ritual was referred to as мокрида (mokryda). The word itself brings us back to Mokosh, stemming from the same etymological roots, meaning mokro (wet/moist).
Text by: Dušan Božić
Иванов, Вячеслав Всеволодович, Топоров, Владимир Николаевич, „К реконструкции Мокоши как женского персонажа в славянской версии основного мифа“, Балто-славянские исследования, 1982, стр. 175-197
Katičić, Radoslav, “Gazdarica na vratima”, Ibis grafika, Zagreb, 2011
Максим Сухарев -
Понедельник, Среда и Пятница (Maksim Sukharev - “Monday, Wednesday and Friday”)
Душан Божић - Судба древних (Dušan Božić - Fate of ancients)
This short comics tells a story about conflict between major gods in Slavic mythology Perun and Veles. Text is written in a form of decasyllable as it was used in old Serbian epic poetry.
“Since there were the Sun and the Moon, Mythical words had been conveyed.
When Gods ruled all over the world, When there was no humans.
Above the treetop of an oak, up in the sky, Situated was knyaz* of thunder - Perun. The one that is honored by many heroes.
And down in the valley was a horned Veles, God of cattle, God of all sorts of wealth. He was ruler of the whole Nav**.
Transformed into bearded snake, He climbed up, where he does not belong, Then he took away flocks of thunderer.
When he lead cattle to the water, He was seen by righteous god Perun. Raging thunderer became wrathful, So, with lightnings he
While Veles tried to hide behind an old trunk Lightning shimmered and cut tree in half, Than snake tried to hide behind the rock, But Perun has found him there also!
Wherever dragon has been hiding There was Perun striking with a lightning. Finally, thunderer found Veles, And shot him down with powerful lightning.
So light was that hit, That he plummeted into the black earth.
Snake has fallen into the black earth, And dark clouds arched over the sky. Rain is falling for three days and three nights. All of the Gods had made trizna***, Grieving over God of cattle.
Fertile Mother Earth took him over, And embraced him on her chest.
Ancient Veles has not died, He will sprout along with a spring flowers.
Kolovrat**** of time is spinning.”
* knyaz is a historical Slavic title, used both as a royal and noble title.
** Nav is one of the names for the otheworld in Slavic beliefs.
*** trizna was a funeral feast of ancient Slavic religion
**** kolovrat is solar symbol and also name for
the spinning wheel
SRŽ Lug Velesa wishes you all the best for this spring equinox! Let us all strengthen, side by side with the nature that envelopes us. Let we flourish while enjoying in the fruitfully period that commences.
There is a representation of Slavic god Perun in which he carries two
millstones in his hands through which he creates thunder and lightning
in the sky, while little parts of millstones are falling on surface as thunderstones. Such representation unifies stone weapons and a thunderer himself.
Original source in Russian language: “Перун держит в руках два чрезвычайно громадных жернова, трет ими и ударяет один о другой; трением и ударами он производит гром и извлекает молнию. Осколки жернова летят на землю и поражают как стрелы. Каменные топоры и ножи народ называет перуновыми стрелами.“ -А.Е. Богданович, Прежитки древнего миросозерцания у белорусов, Гродна, 1895