Winter came into its own. Goes Filippovskiy, or Christmas, post. The village lives joyful anticipation of Christmas, preparing for the yuletide gay. At this time, December 19, new style, people have a favorite holiday — the day of Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, the Wonderworker, or, in other words the peasants.
Saint Nicholas Mozhayskiy, splint, 1720
Nicholas — has long been one of the most beloved people of the saints.
According to legends, it helps in difficult situations, domestic and economic problems, difficult peasant labor. Sometimes people do not even have to ask for it is holy — Nicholas-Man himself is a wonderful way and help those in need.
Dear Nicola — the name of his peasants. The origins of these beliefs — the church life of the saint. People Nicholas was represented as an old man with a staff who walked Mother Russia and helping villagers openly or secretly. People said: "All the gods on his boots, and Nicole Bole Bole that goes."
Day of St. Nicholas the Merciful, Dec. 19, for a long time with respect celebrated travelers, especially seafarers.
Throughout Nicholas was the patron of sailors. According to church tradition, during the life of the saint has saved in distress at sea and in the river waters. In gratitude for the patronage of St. Nicholas in the Russian land, in its coastal areas, sailors and wealthy merchants, traders overseas goods was erected many churches, temples, popularly called Nikola Wet.
In Russia the Wonderworker ranked second (after the Virgin) by the number of churches dedicated to him: some were erected in honor of Nikola winter, frosty — because of changes occurring in nature, and others — in honor of the patron saint's day on May 22, called by the people Nicola vernal , green.
One of the temples dedicated to the saint — St. Nicholas Cathedral in Serpukhov near Moscow. Members were told that one of the walls on the outside was decorated with the image of St. Nicholas, who at the time of the persecution of the Church were trying to paint and erase, but the face every time manifested itself again and again, once again showing the power and sanctity of the place.
In the popular view Nicholas took over the functions of its predecessor — the pagan god Veles. One of its features was the protection of trade. In settlements where there were Church of St. Nicholas of winter, Dec. 19 Nikolskie fairs were held.
In Russia it was the pagan mart in honor of Veles, in Russia the Orthodox — in honor of St. Nicholas. At the Nicholas fairs no one was afraid of fraud — believed that in the noisy crowds walking saint himself, keeps track of all and punishes liars and crooks.
The main product at the fairs was the bread which were brought by the already established luge track. Typically, grain and other fruit farming at that time determined the definite price: was calculated demand is estimated harvest, revealed a surplus. And said, "Nicholas trading — around decree", "Bread prices builds Nicholas bargaining."
Jan Steen. «Feast of St. Nicholas." 1665-1668 years
Visiting the fair, selling goods, receiving money zapasshis all sorts of treats, peasants staged festive celebrations, the main features of which were circulated to visit and feast together. Protracted people's celebration, called popularly Nikolschinoy, for three days.
According to tradition, Nikola winter all the relatives gathered in the house of the eldest in the family — the highway.
Together brewed beer, mead exhibited from the new corn, baked pies, pool their savings to buy treats.
In the following days at the table were going to all the neighbors, often — the whole village. Villagers who refused to participate in Nikolschine, a year plagued villagers ridicule and reproach.
In celebration of an eating together as friends or foes. They said: "On the other Nikolschinu and invite the enemy — all become friends." On the table will certainly put a loaf, which was divided between all participants feast. The fact that it ate together, symbolizing reconciliation, which usually ended Nikolschina. Also, the completion of hatred and quarrels told a ceremony of "marriage of beer": intoxicating drink from different houses poured into a pot, from which he poured all gathered at the table.
According to tradition, the Nikolschine could not take part young people: children, unmarried men and unmarried women. However, they are not wasting any time and started getting ready for the yuletide.
In the pre-agreed young people avoid going to the bees, where they were preparing costumes, masks, composed and taught songs, carols, distributed role in the ritual of caroling and glorification of Christ.
This time, in some places called Nikolsky Boxing Day — for the similarity of some of their customs with Christmas.
So, Nikola winter particularly inquisitive girl wondered.
For example, in a night of celebration for the image of the saint was placed belt, believing in dreams they see their wedding, and most importantly — her spouse. A The kids set off on a neighbor's home to praise Nicholas singing spiritual poems about him.
The modern idol of Veles in the Czech Republic
Farmers have long notice it, that to Nikola winter set the first hard frost — Nikolsky.
In times of paganism at this time arranged a meeting Claus — one embodiment of Veles, which features Nicholas took over. Frost, like 'man, seemed to the peasants in the form of an old man. His advanced age was associated with winter, with the end of the year and the end of human life. According to legends, Frost ruled the cold, snow blizzards yes. His wife had a beautiful Winter.
Probably Nikolschiny origins as a joint celebration with a feast lie in a common meal and fun, which in ancient times were met Slavs Claus.
With the coming of Christianity to Russia in folk beliefs gradually delineated Santa Claus — organic fusion of pagan Claus and St. Nicholas. Day of Remembrance of God pleaser coincided with the meeting of the cold realization of Veles and the church scripture gives him the ability to invisibly help, needing something to bestow.
This is how the Christian Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, put on a long coat and warm boots, has spread the Christmas and New Year gifts to children to later, hiding them under the Christmas tree dressed up.