Traditions in Russia

Christmas and the guessing, New Year and old new year. Signs as a part of Russian culture. Role of signs in human life. Signs about the house and about domestic spirits. Ancient representations about a birth, death and the introduction into a marriage.

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1. Russian holidays: old and new traditions

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) » (Ожегов, Шведова, 1998, p. 806), 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 сочиво. 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.

1.2 Night of Ivan Kupala

On 6 for July 7 (with 24 for June, 25 on old style) one of the most ancient and important holidays of a Slavic calendar - Ivan Kupala, or Ivanov day is celebrated. The tradition of celebrating of Ivan Kupala has come to us from paganism.

This day - ancient Slavs' thanked day of Dazhd'bog, the god of the sun. But the name of a holiday occurs from a national variant of a name of John the Baptist. It was a way the Orthodox Church tried to overcome pre-Christian customs. Called Bathed, it is connected to verbs "to bathe”, " to boil", because it was a holiday in honour of solar wedding, and one of the attributes of this wedding was bathing of the sun in water. According to the ancient representations fire and water were a brother and у sister whose symbol was the dark yellow and blue flower known as Ivan-and-Maria, or the flower of Кupala.

On that day young girls collected Kupala's flowers in woods and fields as grass and flowers during the holiday served as the decoration of the village. Bouquets, wreaths, brooms were used also in guessing. They were put on water and girls guessed about a marriage, about life and death or about the future: if the wreath will sink - to a trouble, will float - fortunately.

At night a huge fire was settled. As soon as its flame inflames, young men and girls, having joined hands, start to jump through him. After cheerful round dances the youth was sent to bathe. Ivan Kupala's celebrating was necessarily accompanied by bathing in the rivers and lakes, washing by water or dew, washing in baths. It was considered, that, washing with dew the face and hands, the person banishes illnesses.

Only at this night, once a year, fern begins to blossom, therefore it is traditional that on the night of Ivan Kupala people searched for a flower of fern. Fern was considered to be one of the most mysterious and magic, magical plants. It was considered, that blossoming fernnot only make all the desires come true and also helps to find a treasure.

Also at this night it is possible to meet mermaids and witches. It is considered, that mermaids receive special force and can withdraw on a riverbed everybody. Therefore the most beautiful girls to those mermaids were kind, did wreaths of field colors and started up them on water. Witches at night of Ivan Kupala gather on the Bald Mountain exactly at midnight. And they fly there on a sweep.

1.3 Pancake week

Pancake week is one of a few ancient pagan holidays of wires of winter kept in Russia and after acceptance of Christianity in X century. The pancake week falls at the week previous to the Great post. Its beginning falls at the period from February 3 (on January, 21 on old style) till March 14 (on March, 1 on old style).

The pancake week has been perceived by Christian church actually as a religious holiday and has received the name Cheese, but it has not changed its internal essence. During a pancake week the person allocates soul before a heavy and long Great post.

The pancake week is famous for plentiful and nourishing food. Therefore there is nothing bad in at this time to regale, try the diversified dishes and to not refuse in anything. In a traditional life it was always considered, that the person, badly and boringly lead this week, would be unlucky within all year. All the fun events are considered to be a magic presage of the future well-being, prosperity and success in all business, domestic and economic undertakings.

From numerous rules and recommendations that should be observed during this holiday, it is possible to name the basic. First, on a pancake week it is impossible to eat meat. The Myasojed (the period of eating much meat, separating a winter, Christmas post from spring, Great) comes to an end, and Sunday before a pancake week starts in last afternoon when meat is allowed to eat. On a pancake week it is possible to eat dairy products and fish. However the basic dish on a pancake week is, as is known, pancakes, which are made every day since Monday. This time refers to as a wide pancake week.

The second rule tells that the meal on a pancake week becomes the most important form of a life. That is why people say, that at this time it is necessary to eat as many times as often the dog will wave a tail. On the pancake week people do not only eat much at home, but also frequently visit friends and relatives and invite guests.

But it's not only the meal that makes sense of a pancake week. The pancake week allows dances, singing, driving from mountains (on special trays), amusing fights (types of a capture of a snow small town), burning of scarecrows: earlier from straw, and later from a snow on manners of "snowmen", fires and many other things.

Driving in sledge was rather popular, horses and a harness were decorated according to the special image: under arches of horses suspend hand bells, and in tails and a mane intertwine with tapes. This driving on horses was not only a way to show the brave and fine horses, but also a traditionally female way to brag of new things. The driving had special value for girls who wanted to attract attention of grooms and the main thing - of their parents.

Pancake week is not a one-day holiday. It is the whole week when the person should not think of work or any household chores and affairs. It is necessary to have fun, walk and eat, having postponed affairs up to the Great post.

On a pancake week it is necessary not to forget and about a newly married couple as at this time it is accepted to congratulate all pairs, which have got married during last year. People had to give them gifts, play a trick on them, drag in a snow, force to kiss publicly, visit them unexpectedly. And a newly married couple had to take part in the festival and visit parents, leave "to the public", etc.

However the time of a holiday sooner or later comes to the end. The last day a holiday refers to Forgiven Sunday. This day it is accepted to beg pardon to teach other for all insults caused during the year and by that to be cleared of all sinful, to what the person got used during the pancake week. This "pardon" passes usually in such a way: first the most younger are sorry about grown-ups, in reply grown-ups are sorry about the younger.

The pardon between native and familiar occurs in the evening, upon termination of all the entertainments. People say to each other: «Forgive me if I did anything wrong to you». The tradition to be sorry is distributed and on dead when on Sunday many people are sent on a cemetery, leave on the tombs of their relatives and friends pancakes.

1.4 New traditions: the Twenty Third of February and the Eighth of March

In XX century such holidays, as on February 23 and on March 8, by tradition considered man's and female in the days became popular. But the history of these holidays now is almost forgotten by people.

The day of defenders of Fatherland started to be celebrated in 1918 as the birthday of Red Army in commemoration of a victory near Narva and Pskov in the war against the German conquerors. Here it is necessary to remember, that International's authority in Russia has been connected to the change of a calendar, therefore the eighth of March according to the new style is the February, 23, the old style. When European International members marked celebrated the eighth of March ", in Russia this day referred to 23 of February. Therefore in pre-Revolutionary years the members of the party have got used to celebrate the holiday on February 23. Then the calendar had changed, but there was a reflex to celebrate something revolutionary on February 23. In some years the holiday that was called " Day of Red Army " was created.

But it is a myth because on February 23, 1918 was not Red Army yet, and there were no its victories. Newspapers of the end of February 1918 do not contain any victorious notes. And February newspapers of 1919 do not exult concerning first anniversary of " a great victory ". Only in 1922 on February 23 it has been declared “the Day of Red Army ". However, one year on February 23, 1918 "the Truth" writes that this day is a holiday: " Long before war proletarian International has appointed on February, 23 the international female holiday ".

However, to think up to celebrating on February 23 covering it was necessary also because " February revolution " on February 23, 1917 began. As Bolsheviks did not play the leading role, but nevertheless have accepted it, they were welcomed and brought to the calendar; it was necessary to give other name to the day of " overthrow of autocracy. It became " the day of Red army ", and in due course day on February 23 - nowadays the Day of the defender of Fatherland - became a holiday of all men of Russia.

The international women's day was primary a political holiday too. Everybody knows, that on March 8 the international women's day is, though it is celebrated only on the territory of the former USSR. The history of this holiday is traditionally connected to Clara Tsetkin who has created the revolutionary group consisting of women, so to say has decided to use uncontrollable energy of women on struggle against exploiters. And though its creation was business of not one day, it has been solved to choose a day which could be considered the Birthday of female proletariat. The choice of date belonged to Clara Tsetkin who has managed to link births of the new group struggling against injustice with the history of Jewish people. They have rescued from a tyrant a lot of centuries ago. The annual and most cheerful holiday of Jewish people is the holiday is devoted to it. It is celebrated on crisis from winter by the spring. Probably, that year when the decision to start to celebrate " the International women's day " was accepted, this Jewish holiday had fallen on March 8. And the date got accustomed. It was probably inconvenient to change date every year. In the Soviet state this holiday was transformed all over again to day of the revolutionary woman, and now it is celebrated simply as the beginning of spring, as day of worship the woman, her beauty, her wisdom and everything, that is identified with femininity.

The holidays existing in modern Russia not only emphasize one of the brightest features of Russian culture - the connection of pagan and Christian traditions, but also reflect the mentality of Russian people.

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

The concept of life cycle includes the most important stages of human life, such as birth and childhood, marriage and death, and traditions of life cycle are understood as the traditions directly connected to these events. In a basis of the majority of traditions the idea of transition between the worlds that is made by the person being born, dying or marrying. The feature of these Russian traditions synthesis of pagan and Christian elements is a specific one.

The birth is represented as arrival of the child to the terrestrial world and is considered to be the beginning of a new life in another world.

Circumstances of a birth of the child allow defining his destiny, therefore frequently speaking, that the child was born under the lucky star, as stars were perceived as a receptacle of souls died, but at the same time and as a symbol of the female beginning, and also contacted a prediction of the future. But the most known are the representations, connected to unusual circumstances of coming of the baby into the world, for example, so called “birth in a shirt”.

There are some versions of an origin of these representations. The first is connected to the fact that sometimes children are born « in a shirt » - with the bubble that covers a body or a head of a newborn child. The Russian call this environment "a shirt". It is considered, that the person who has been born in "a shirt" will be very happy and successful all his life. It is connected to that that in an antiquity people saw magic links between the person and his clothes, and the word "clothes" is historically connected to such concepts, as hope and destiny.

Besides the social factor also takes place here, because 1) adult people wear clothes, therefore the child who has been given birth « in a shirt », is not a usual child, but one from the world of ancestors; 2) a newborn child will be successful, as he was born not naked, as all children, but already in clothes (as in poor families not all children had a clothes, "shirt" was considered a symbol of well-being).

There is also an explanation connected to ancient religious representations about the spirit-keeper. When the soul descends on the ground to take up human shape, it is followed by its spirit-keeper; in the beginning it stays in a shirt sometimes it happens that it is twisted around a head of a newborn child.

Mention of an essence assisting to the child to proceed in our world, have found reflection and in a traditional explanation of where children come from (the stork has brought).

The marriage was also considered to be a transition from one world into another, as a new birth of the girl for a life in the other world. Earlier pre-wedding traditions, such as the offer and engagement had great value. So, before the introduction into a marriage it was necessary to ask the parents of the bride for a hand of the daughter and sometimes the bride herself for her agreement.

Funeral traditions also reflect representations about transition of soul of the dead into another world and are connected to various aspects of this transition. For example, it is accepted to bear the dead from a house legs forward so that it could not find the way home, put a wineglass of vodka and bread because 40 more days the soul is on the ground.

2.2 Wedding traditions

It was accepted to marry to Russia quite early. It happened, that the age of the groom was from 12 till 13 years. In an early marriage it was perfect natural, that the groom and the bride did not know each other up to a marriage. The general moral concepts of that time did not allow young people of both sexes to see each other and talk. The relatives solved all this. Usually fathers and mothers of the groom personally chose a girl, informing the son about it when wedding was already prepared.

But sometimes parents of the bride did the first step. Wishing to marry the daughter, parents sent to the groom a person close to them, the matchmaker, if parents of the groom agreed started courtship by usual order.

First they looked, whether the bride is good, whether is clever. The groom could not see the bride before wedding. If subsequently the deceit with the bride opened, the marriage could be terminated, but it happened very seldom.

Sometimes the groom insisted on the right to see the bride himself but then it was already almost impossible to cancel the wedding.

After that there was an arrangement - the first part of a marriage holiday or the introduction to a celebration. The parents of the bride appointed a special day. Parents sat down against each other and kept silence for some minutes, so it was accepted. The arrangement was made, the special note where was written, that during such time wedding will take place, and for the bride will get a concrete sum of money.

The money or some useful things, such as a bed, a dress, domestic utensils and ornaments, people, money, the real estate were always the important condition of Russian wedding. Nothing was required from the groom. This arrangement had legal value. If the bride was from a poor family and could not bring anything to the new house the groom himself transferred parents the bride some sum of money - the ancient custom did not allow to take the bride without anything given.

On the day of a celebration (on the eve or in the morning) the matchmaker of the bride was sent in the house of the groom to prepare marriage to a box. There was a belief, those valiant sorcerers and witches can bring a spoil and to overtake malicious spirits in that house, where wedding is being prepared. Different things were done to prevent it. It was necessary, that on a ceiling of the room for the newly married there was no ground that, thus, the marriage bedroom did not resemble anything a tomb. In the room chests with grain, flanks were brought.

Before the wedding in the church visitors and a newly-married couple were invited to the table, but sitting next the future spouse the groom did not see the face of the bride as she was wearing a dense coverlet - a prototype of a today's veil.

After wedding a feast was arranged, the bride's face was already open, and she should cry, and women and maidens sang sad songs. Before leaving a wedding feast the husband, as a token of the authority, struck the wife's back. It symbolized that the young woman was given from one "owner" to another.

After that in due time the young husband withdrew the young wife. Having remained alone, the young should execute one more ancient custom: a ceremony of taking off the shoes. It is a very ancient ceremony, which has reached to Russian from pagan times. It was, that the wife, as a token of humility, should take off the husband boots. In one of a boot there was put a coin. If she managed first to take off that boot in which there was a coin, it meant, that there will be a happiness for the young family, otherwise it meant, that she should please the husband and obey him all her life.

After wedding during several days (sometimes about a month, depending on a solvency of families and local customs) celebrating took place.

In modern Russia church wedding has began popular again, but it is not an obligatory part of wedding. But modern wedding ceremony consists of a plenty of traditional actions, starting from old custom to transfer the bride through a threshold and finishing with different games and competitions. There are specific traditions in every city, too. So, in Petersburg there's a tradition to come on the wedding day to the quay of the Neva and to some famous monuments, to leave flowers there, to take photos and drink champagne.

The traditions connected to life cycle are one of elements that are characteristic for all cultures. Thus, distinctions in these traditions allow seeing the national originality of customs of the country.

culture christmas russian

3. Signs as a part of Russian culture

3.1 Role of signs in human life

Wу can't make a step without signs. So popular proverb says. And the word sign occurs from a word "to notice", i.e. to observe. As a result of supervision of what occurs in the world around us people collect life experience. This knowledge comes from generation to generation who carefully stored them and trusted them as to the sacred book.

The most part of sighs came up to us from immemorial time, not having lost the knowledge. Everything, that is connected to signs, incorporated somewhere deeply in our sub consciousness. Frequently we recollect them mechanically, unconsciously or simply for fun. But, undoubtedly, in signs a set of exact knowledge and practical wisdom of our ancestors is saved. They cover the characteristic, the natural phenomena that often take place and other details of our everyday life. In signs it was kept much, that were in old national holidays and customs, they help to forecast weather, to bring up a crop. Except all it in signs there is a unique poetry in which we can see the very mind, heart, an outlook of the Russian people, their vital way, their originality.

Some signs, which are considered Russian, have appeared not in Russia. Many of them have remained since olden days, as the inheritance of our ancestors, people with whom we had to find common ways of living and exchange customs with other peoples. Till now there are the signs similar with Roman ones. These are such signs as usage to wish health when the person sneezes, ringing in ears, belief to that to spill out salt on a table - not for better, etc. All this is identical with former Roman customs.

3.2 Signs about the house and about domestic spirits

The house is the most sacred and expensive, that each person has in his life. He who will construct the house is the owner, but also in any way we cannot mention some mystical forces, which faithfully and truly preserve the house and is the true owner and even a member of family. First of all this is known for every one since the childhood the spirit of the house - Domovoj. Nobody knows where exactly he lives, but everyone knows, that it can turn into any animal. Sometimes Domovoj is described as a small little man with unusually thick hands and legs, all in wool. According to the appearance of that house spirit people can judge prosperity in the house. If his paw is naked it means poverty. There exists a belief, that the cat - the relative of the house spirit and replaces it when that leaves on affairs. That is why the peasant, getting a kitten, chooses it carefully, selecting such painting which corresponds to color of hair of the owner of a house. This spirit can play tricks on people: to confuse hair on the head of the sleeping person, to throw tools, to hide things. It is also considered, that Domovoj becomes seen before coming nearer misfortune. And sometimes leans on the owner at night and starts to oppress, warning of fast changes in life. For rescue it is necessary to read a pray.

It's known that Domovoj has a wife. She can bitterly cry at night to a trouble. And they have many sisters and the brothers living in the house and around of him. They are spirits of bath, of a barn, of the fields and some others.

Whence all these spirits have undertaken, the ancient legend tells us. The first people, Adam and Eve, after their fall gave birth to the children who were so ugly. Adam wanted to throw them into the Euphrates River; Eve interceded for the children and asked the husband not to kill them and to hide so that no one could see them. Since that time all these children were scattered all over the world. They are hidden from people, and only occasionally they play some dirty tricks. But if the person is kind to them and reckons with their presence they help them.

The spirit of a wood who misdirects people in a wood and frightens them, and the spirit of water, lakes and rivers, and mermaids, eternally young and beautiful girls with long hair who lived in palaces at the bottom of the rivers - they all are such spirits and each of them is very interesting in its own way, therefore it is possible to speak about them very much. That's why all the spirits and the mermaid have become heroes of Russian national fairy tales.

3.3. Household signs

There is a set of signs connected to household duties. It is well known, that a broom with the brush turned upwards frightens off wicked spirits, and the door that suddenly begins to creak brings misfortune, the curtain has torn - to be to quarrel between girlfriends, the icon - to death; if the room flowers grow well it means that the family will live in peace, but fading flowers bring troubles into the house; a piece of soap on the bosom under the shirt rescues from damage. One shouldn't throw dust through a window or pour out slops because there is an angel under the window. If one spit in the oven fire he'll get bubbles on his tongue. If the girl likes to sit on a windowsill she won't get married in the nearest future. The keys put on a table, do not bring anything good, stopped hours promises some changes in one's life, and a fur coat fallen from a hanger is the beginning of a large quarrel in family.

But the most interesting thing is the mirror. Since the ancient times the mirror was considered to be one of the riddles of human inventions. In opinion of conservatives, the mirror in the house is a sin. Nowadays everybody knows that leaving home you should look into it, pretending to create a double to guard the house. That rule is especially important if you had to come back home in the very beginning of the day.

Popular signs give us some advise about cooking and arrival of visitors and behaviour behind a table, too. Bread should be cut on the table, otherwise famine come into the house. If there're some small bubbles in a cup it means that you will get some money soon. But if you want the sign will come true you should collect all these small bubbles with a spoon and pour it out on your head… This list of signs is never-ending.

Many signs are connected to insects that can be found in the house. For example, red cockroaches bring grief, but black ones mean getting a gift. Rats bring unfortunate events in the house, and the fly appeared in the winter - to the dead man.

Many signs are connected to New Year. It's considered that if on the eve of New Year in the house there's enough money and they are not lent, you will not have no need in them all next year. If on New Year you put on something new the coming year will be successful. He, whose pockets are empty on New Year, will live in need. On a New Year's table there should be much meal and drinks so that in the next year the prosperity was in the house. It is impossible to borrow money before New Year under any conditions otherwise all next year you'll get debts. If the first who comes into the house in the New Year morning is a man the coming year will bring happiness, but if it's a woman - on the contrary. On a new year's eve it is impossible to quarrel, swear or cry, or to go to bed early, as there is a sign: as you meet New year so you will live all the year. Last wineglass before New Year, juicy of a bottle, will bring success to the one who will drink it. Before New Year it is not necessary to bear dust from your house, otherwise in the coming year there will be no happiness.

National signs are a bright feature of national culture, and in Russia ancient traditional representations about live are reflected in signs, so they are significant and actual for the majority of people till nowadays.


The culture is a universal way of creative self-realization of the person, aspiration to find sense of a human life. The culture appears at the person as the semantic world, which inspires people and rallies them in some community (the nation, religious or professional group, etc.). This semantic world reflected in traditions and folklore is transferred from generation to generation and defines a way of life and attitude to other people.

In a basis of such a semantic world the dominating sense, a semantic dominant of culture lays. The semantic dominant of culture is that main sense, the general attitude of the person to the world, which defines character of all other senses and attitudes. These attitudes are also underlined by national traditions. They can be realized differently, but the presence of semantic unity gives integrity to everything, that and that people do in their lives. Uniting and inspiring people, traditions give them not only the general way of comprehension of the world, but also a way of mutual understanding and empathy, a language for expression of the most delicate movements of soul. It is impossible to study culture in all its aspects at once, but it is possible to allocate, understand and analyze dominating sense, its basic components. And further it is necessary to study various ways of its realization, to address to the details and concrete forms of its embodiment, to national creativity, to art, to traditions.

Today scientists pay much attention to studying of dialogue of cultures. But such a dialogue is possible because the source of all cultures is a person with his universality and freedom. The person can differently realize the creative beginning, and completeness of his creative self-expression is reached by creation and use of various cultural forms. And traditions represent the forms of spiritual culture, and in which of them the essence of human life is expressed in specific way. This dialogue is not between cultures themselves, but between people for which the corresponding cultures are outlined specific semantic and symbolical borders with the help of traditions. Each culture is unique, and each culture has its true. Studying of the culture of a native land will help not only to understand better its own traditions, but also to analyze the features of cultures of other countries more deeply.


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3. Русский народ: Его обычаи, обряды, предания, суеверия и поэзия. М., 1880.

4. Шахнович М.И. Приметы верные и суеверные. Лд., 1984.

5. Энциклопедия обрядов и обычаев. Спб., 1996.

6. Lang A. Custom and Myth. Wakefild, 1976.

7. Myth, Religion and Society. Cambridge, 1981.

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