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News

Holy Trinity Came to the Don Country

15.06.2019

Holy Trinity Day is one of the favourite and revered holidays of the Don Cossacks after Easter, that is why people call it Pentecost.

Cossack families prepared for this holiday beforehand. According to A.P.Gribanov, a local historian of Vyoshenskaya, before the Pentecost each mistress cleaned her own kuren (a Cossack house). The stoves were whitewashed, windows were washed, wooden floors were scraped away with zeal, earth floors were smeared with clay and sprinkled with white sand. In the evening, before Pentecost, the floors were covered with fresh sweet-scented herbs, often thyme. The aroma of the herbs spread throughout the house. After three days the herbs were taken away and fed to the animals. Such herbs were considered favourable for the animals.

Before the holiday the gates and doors of the house were adorned with fresh cut branches of birch, willow, elm, or linden.

M.A.Sholokhov writes in his novel “And Quiet Flows the Don”: The Pentecost left in the farmyards: dry thyme scattered in the fields, dust of crumpled leaves and wrinkled obsolete greens of felled oak and ash branches stuck near the gates and porches.” (And Quiet Flows the Don. Book 1, part 1, chapter IX).

Not only Cossack houses, but also churches were adorned with flowers and herbs. The custom of bringing greenery to the church symbolizes the all-reviving power of the Most Holy and Life-Giving Spirit. The field herbs from the church were gathered and dried. Cossacks believed that the dried Pentecost herbs protect the house from thunderstorm and fire. After a year the Pentecost herbs, if not used, were burnt, as it’s “a sin to throw the shrine away”.

In the morning of Pentecost, Cossacks, from little to old, hurried to the church for the holiday service. Returning home the Cossack family sat down at the holiday dinner table. The main dish of the meal was fried eggs served in a big frying-pan placed in the centre of the table.

After dinner, young people smartly dressed went outside the village for merrymaking. Boys made friends with girls, the girls made wreaths of wild flowers and threw them into the water. They divined which of them would marry faster.

Working was not desirable. That is why Cossacks tried to complete planting work in the kitchen-gardens and fields before Pentecost.

The holidays were followed by working weekdays, the life returned into its usual rut, and Cossackswent to the meadows. Grass cutting started.

 

Olga Sivolobova