Harvest, 1902 painting by Serbian painter Nadežda Petrović
In Labor, northern Croatia, when the last sheaf of wheat was cut, it was thrown as high up as possible in the air with these words: "God give us bread as tall as this".
Then a wreath was made from the sheaf and wild flowers and was placed on the head of the most beautiful harvest girl. She would then take it to the field owner's house. What this girl looked like can be seen on this picture from Ukraine where they had similar ritual.
In Ukraine it was important that the girl was also a virgin. This is in accordance with many other Slavic fertility rituals which directly link female fertility and Earth fertility. Earth being "Virgin mother" is here represented by human virgin....
I Labor, the rest of the female harvesters would walk along with the girl carrying the wheat wreath singing:
We are going home, praying to god
God mighty, Bright Sun
Are you at home our lords
We are bringing you a present, a wheat wreath...
What this procession of harvest girls from the field into the village probably looked like in Croatia, can be seen on this 1910 painting by polish Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski entitled "Dożynki", which is what this end of harvest ritual was called in Poland.
The wreath was the central feature of most celebrations associated with dożynki, as it symbolised a rich harvest, the prospect of wealth and the power of new life vested in the grain gathered during the Summer.
In many regions the grain from the wreath was the first batch of grain to be threshed. It was then set aside for next year's sowing and was the fist grain to be sawn. Reenactment of the threshing of the last sheaf grain, Ukraine.
The wheat wreath was also a symbol of sun, solar year and neverending cycle of death and rebirth (sawing, growing, harvesting, sawing...)
Considering that the ritual was found in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe, this was obviously once a Pan-Slavic harvest ritual...
Source for Croatian ritual:
"JUGOSLOVJENSKA ŽETVA - Običaji i obredi s uporedbama" by Ivo T. Franić
Source for East Slavic (Polish, Ukrainian, Russian) ritual
Dozinki (Wikipedia article)
„Mieli nadto Litwini, pokąd żyli w ciemnocie pogańskiej, dawny z przodków swoich obyczaj, że do gajów, które uważali za święte, nawiozłszy zboża w początku miesiąca października, zgromadzali się do nich z żonami, dziećmi i domownikami swymi i bogom ojczystym czynili przez trzy dni ofiary z wołów, cielców, baranów i innych zwierząt, a po skończonych ofiarach, przez trzy dni biesiadowali, pląsali, wyprawiali rozmaite igrzyska i wśród zabawy pożywali ofiarne jadło”.ReplyDelete
"They also had Lithuanians from where they lived in pagan darkness, a former custom of their ancestors, that to the groves which they considered sacred, bringing cereals in the beginning of October, they gathered to them with their wives, children and their household members, and did their mother gods for three days of sacrifice with oxen, calves, rams and other animals, and after the sacrifices were over, they spent three days feasting, dancing, playing various games and eating sacrificial food among the fun. "
Jednym z dawniejszych zwyczajów żniwnych jest też ciąganie dziewczyny po rżysku na zakończenie żniw? Można to jeszcze obejrzeć podczas różnych pokazów w skansenach. Czemu miało to służyć?ReplyDelete
"Nazywa się to oborywaniem przepiórki. Kiedyś ten zwyczaj występował powszechnie. Młodą dziewczynę łapano za nogi i przeciągano po rżysku wokół przepiórki. Wierzono, że kobieta przekazuje ziemi płodność. Zwyczaj ten był znany nie tylko na Podlasiu, ale także dalej na Wschód, na Białorusi, na Lubelszczyźnie.".
One of the old harvest habits is also pulling the girl in a rut at the end of the harvest? You can still see it during various shows in open-air museums. What was this supposed to do?
This is called quail farming. Once this custom was common. The young girl was caught by the legs and dragged around the quail. It was believed that a woman would give fertility to the earth. This custom was known not only in Podlasie, but also further to the East, Belarus, and the Lublin region.
Przepiórka is a small bird living in grain
Przepiórka in Polish, Препелица (Prepelica) in Serbian, both meaning Common Quail (Coturnix Coturnix) (as you said a small bird living in grain).Delete
Both words come from proto-Slavic: *perpelъ
Just an interesting observation! :)
the last clump - or a belt of uncut grain, which after the harvest was left for some time in an empty field for continuity of harvest, was called Perepełka ( some like Препелица -Prepelica) in the eastern borderlands of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.Delete
"Taką kępkę zboża w końcu pola związują słomą u góry, a u dołu oczyszczają z chwastów, „żeby w roku przyszłym zboże było czyste”. Wśród kępki kładą płaski kamyk, a na nim kęs chleba i szczyptę soli, niby ofiarę dla przepiórki, niby symbol potrzeb rolnika i widomy znak, że chleb „łoński” wystarczył do nowego. Wszystko to zowie się „strojeniem przepiórki”, a i sama kępka zboża – „przepiórką”.".
At the end of the field, such a tuft of grain is bound with straw at the top and at the bottom cleaned of weeds, "so that next year the grain is clean". They put a flat pebble amongst the tufts, and on it a bite of bread and a pinch of salt, like a quail offering, like a symbol of a farmer's needs and a visible sign that 'łoński' bread was enough for new. All this is known as "quail tuning" and the tuft of grain itself - "quail."
łoński - means "from last year"
"a quail offering" - looks like a very old custom and probably has nothing to do with modern village "spells"
łoński - means "from last year"Delete
Also interesting, as in Serbian "лањски" - read as "lanyski" and also "лане" (lane) both mean "from last year".
It looks like you are right, but it is understandable since it was once a single language communityReplyDelete