In ancient times the new agricultural year was dedicated to the day of the vernal equinox, and began the night from 21 to 22 March. This period is associated pagan celebration of Carnival.
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In the current Shrove Tuesday, far from the original tradition prevails entertainment side of the rite. In ancient times, the concept of a "holiday" had a completely different meaning than it does today. These days, the material world is moving closer to the world of "Navi" (the spiritual world) so close that the latter begins to affect events that happen in our world. In such "holiday" days escorted souls of the dead. These days are considered "idle", empty, so it was impossible to start any business and work but funeral rites were not mourning, because death is not considered something "evil", it was just a transition from one form of existence to another, the destruction of the "old" followed by the revival of the "new."
In the modern Slavic Shrovetide combines two different holiday: the choice of bride Yarile and seeing souls of the dead. Like many pagan festivals, carnival originally lasted 14 days, but the ministers of the Christian church, having failed to destroy the holiday, reduced it to 8 days, resulting in some rituals are "intertwined" in others.
Celebration of Shrovetide was associated with the rite of "suppressors". For holiday fabricated masks with ugly images. In Switzerland, frightening masks made of wood. On masks depicting bared teeth, they were attached scraps of fur and wool. In Yugoslavia, the masks were made of various materials, even metal, were very popular mask with horns.
In Pancake ryazhanye face smeared with soot, clothes turned inside out, frightened passers-by portraying spirits.
In the Netherlands, for the arrival of Carnival decked unbroken horses. They thoroughly cleaned, decorated mane and tail with paper flowers.
In Germany, the mummers harnessed to the plow, and walked with him through the city.
The tradition of celebrating Shrovetide was associated with the cult of the ancestors, and mummers thus gave them a tribute.
As the NR Guseva, the rite of celebrating Shrovetide at Russia was remarkably similar to the ritual actions conducted during the Indian festival of Holi (campfires, burning stuffed animals, dancing around the fire, sprinkling ashes and cinders participants of the rite). One is a foreigner, who visited Russia in 1698, reminded the Italian terracotta carnival carnival, which coped in the same way and in the same length of time.
Among the main ritual acts committed during the Slavic Carnival are the following:
2) Funeral rites.
By the funeral rites, which staged on Shrove Tuesday, treated fights, special diet, burning effigies, guessing on the melt water (snow was considered the epitome of souls of the dead).
3) The customs associated with the newlyweds, including horseback riding.
4) The ritual eating of pancakes.
This is the ancient pagan festival of Carnival.