Like most holidays (except for some), the meeting of the New Year is a ritual of ancient origin. Today, comparing the traditions that have come down to us with some ancient rites, the unexpected parallels strike one and understand the hidden meanings of New Year's customs.
And here it is, elegant, came to us for a holiday.
For example, a Christmas tree, which (live or artificial) almost every family puts at home. The early Celts (and not only them) venerated the fir-tree and endowed with magical meaning. It is an evergreen tree, and therefore not amenable to any destructive forces. Perhaps that is why the fir-tree was considered the abode of the forest god, with whom friendship was essential for people who depend on the "favor" of the forest.
The spirit, of course, did not live in every tree buried, but in the oldest and most powerful one. Here, before the winter solstice, obsequious ancients gathered in front of her, to appease the spirit, to receive from him the "blessing" for the next year.
They were able to urge in the old days only in one way - sacrifice. Once these were human sacrifices, and then they began to "get rid" of animals. They hung the insides of the killed victims on the branches of the fir-tree covered with blood. These were the prototypes of the current Christmas tree ornaments.
Subsequently, the magical rituals changed. The murders were a thing of the past, and they decorated a sacred plant with gifts - apples, pieces of bread, ears, etc.
Tree decoration acquired another meaning. The deity was not just appeased, but also "hinted" at those benefits that the celebrants would like to receive next year when nature revives after the winter stagnation. On the branches of fir-tree, certain symbols appeared.
The top of the tree was "given away" to the gods, the head of human destiny, and decorated with the image of the sun, made from wheatears, pictures of stars, birds. There were more useful symbols placed closer to the ground: figures of people who wanted to get rid of diseases or improve their lives, fruits that hinted at a good harvest, images of houses that they tried to build for themselves next year, and so on.
Gradually, forest festivals passed under the roofs. A fir-tree was dug out with its roots and transferred to the temple, where it was alive for seven days - the spirit was invited to visit. Then, just as carefully, the tree was transplanted back, burying gifts or sacrifices under its roots. However, to cut a living tree to bring it into the house was forbidden. Cut the branches allowed, but no more.
They formed the barbaric custom of the New Year "billet" of Christmas trees much later.
The magical properties of fir-trees or pines are confirmed even by a custom that has come down to our times, like decorating the branches of these plants with coffins with dead bodies or the tradition to carve the path along the coffin with fir-tree legs. It links the fir-tree with death, which we will discuss in more detail, recalling the transformation of the beloved Father Frost.
Hello Santa Claus and the Snow Maiden.
Santa Claus the character, without which it is impossible to imagine the New Year, is Santa Claus. This image also has an ancient and unexpected origin.
In olden times, people associated winter with the sign of the planet Saturn. Saturn appeared as an old man with a long beard and a scythe in his hands. In some cases, they changed the spit to a large staff or a rod of power, which Saturn rules Death. Therefore, during the winter solstice, this character also needed to cajole. In the mysteries of the Druids, there was a priest who dressed in Saturn. They sacrificed a virgin to the deity, tied to a tree in the cold, where it froze, indicating that the sacrifice was accepted. Therefore, there was a familiar to us Snow Maiden, accompanied by which comes on holiday our Santa Claus.
Therefore, Santa Claus was not originally a positive, kind character (remember at least the Nekrasov's Jack Frost poem). Interestingly, the Navajo Indians have preserved legends about the Great Elder of the North, and this is one of the names of the devil.
The appearance of Santa Claus with a bag of gifts is also not wholly interpreted. Yes, it is a bag. However, not with presents, but with sacrifices that the Great Old Man of the North, the symbol of Death, does not give, but collects from people. Therefore, the appearance of a grandfather with a beard in your house says that you have not paid him for something for a year. There is nothing special to be happy.
On the Soviet greeting cards, you can see that the snowman was one of the most beloved New Year characters. It is not for nothing that there is the expression "Mother Winter, Father Frost". Moreover, the month of January was sometimes even called "the snowman". The snowman is also one of the favorite New Year characters. In the great Soviet cartoons, "Snowman postman," "When the Christmas trees are glowing," the snowman acts as a faithful helper of Santa Claus on the housework. In the Soviet Union, people painted snowmen skillfully on greeting cards.
Therefore, perceiving the New Year as a fun children's holiday, it is worth looking a little deeper, then something will fall into place, the true meaning of ancient rituals and traditions of past centuries will open.
About the author: Melisa Marzett is a freelance writer who is writing for Great Essay Editing Company and is good at cooking, knitting, and doing things with their own hands.