Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Old New Year!

The Old New Year - is a rare historical phenomenon, an additional holiday, which turned out as a result of the change of chronology.
A very long time ago the beginning of the year was celebrated on the 1st of March (New Style March 14th). Since that time in Russia the Julian calendar was used, consisting of 12 months, whose names were associated with the phenomena of nature.
Since 1492 in Russia the New Year become widely celebrated in the church calendar, in the 1st of September (September 14th, New Style, the start of the year according to the "Genesis").
Two hundred years later in the year 1700 Peter the Great issued a decree "to calculate the summer, from January 1st, from the Nativity 8 days later. By the twentieth century the calendar lagged in Russia 13 calendar days behind Europe, so something had to be done to the Gregorian calendar. To close this gap in 1918 by decree of the Council of People's Commissars a transition to the Gregorian calendar was made - the "new style" on 14th of January - the day of St. Basil was the old New Year.
If at the Christmas Eve (January 6th) the kutya was plenty prepared, then at Melanki (January 13th) the Old New Year style was generous. That is why this evening is also called generous (shedriy).
The whole family sits down for the dinner. It is essential that the clothes on that day are thoroughly washed and clean. After the dinner, it is time to visit the neighbours and ask for an apology for the possible guilty deeds from each other - to meet the New Year in peace and harmony.
Special attention deserves the girl's fortune telling. The members of the female kind want to know what the destiny has in store for them in the future. Try at least this: before going to bed put a comb under the pillow, while saying: "my promised future husband, comb my hair in my dream!" Those who dream to be scratching their heads are believed to be your betrothed.

If you visit the yard at the midnight, you can feel how the Old New Year gets rid of the old year. In the New Year's Day it was most common, and it still remains to be so, the posevaniya ritual. It is believed that this ceremony has come to us even from pre-Christian times, because our ancestors greeted the New Year not in winter and spring, and because the posevaniya ritual is associated with the hopes for a good harvest. The ones who participated in this ritual were mostly children (posevalniki), and generous gifts were given to all those who came to the house first. There were single and also whole groups of posevalniki. In the last case, the interesting ceremony turned into a real spectacle, where the characters were Vasili Melanka, Gypsies and others.

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