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Kermesse in the Ritual Culture and Social Life of Galician Peasants (Late 19th Century – the 1930s)

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The authors of the publication:
Drohobytska Oksana
Bibliographic description:
Drohobytska, O. (2021) Kermesse in the Ritual Culture and Social Life of Galician Peasants (Late 19th Century – the 1930s). Folk Art and Ethology, 3 (391), 122–135.


Drohobytska Oksana

a PH.D in History, associate professor at the Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University Department of Ethnology and Archeology. ORCID: 0000-0002-2929-1708


Kermesse in the Ritual Culture and Social Life of Galician Peasants  (Late 19th Century – the 1930s)



The main thesis of the article is a temple feast in the festive ritual culture and public life of the Galician peasant at the end of ХІХth – 30th years of the ХХ century. The main attention is drawn to the preparation process for the holiday, the tradition of hospitality, the menu, as well as entertainment of the participants of celebrations.

The temple holiday occupied an important place in the festive ritual culture and public life of the Galician peasantry. The temple celebration in the national consciousness was equated, by its significance, to the Christmas and Easter. In some settlements it was customary to call a child in honor of the saint whose figure was honored during the feast.

Preparation was carried out on the collective and on individual levels. On the eve of the feast, the church fraternity took away the temple and its territory. Peasants were cleansing inside and outside, bringing order in the yard. A lot of bread and sweet pastries were baked before the feast. In the interwar period among the celebratory dishes there were even cakes. In our opinion, they are due to the appearance of culinary courses, organized by representatives of the rural intelligentsia and the organization «Soiuz ukrainoк». The responsibilities of the owner also included the purchase or manufacture of alcohol products, especially vodka and beer.

Relatives and friends were invited to the feast during their last visit, or a week or two before the holiday. It was the holiday that began with the solemn worship in the church, which was attended by fellow villagers, guests from neighboring and remote villages or cities. At the end of the solemn banquet, the hosts invited guests home for a meal. The most venerable guests were sitting at the table in the sacred place (pokut’) – the most sacred and honorable place in the housing. Traditionally, guests were given a piece of baked pie or malt pastry. The list of holiday dishes varied depending on the ethnographic region, specific locality and material wealth of the family. The family of the local priest was especially carefully prepared to the temple holiday.

An interesting reservoir for the study of contemporary ethnographers is the so-called temple songs that were performed on the occasion of the feast at the time of the feast. The songs magnify the master and his house. Greatly popular was the work of traveling lyrical artists.

During the temple holidays, trade was actively conducted with various craft, especially religious attributes (crosses, icons) and prayer books. The patriotic clergy often used feasts to propagate a national idea.

On the example of the temple holidays, the function of lunch as a form of social communication is most clearly traced. On the occasion of the feast to the village there were many guests who brought news from all over the region. Then the consumption of food lasted for several hours, at the table were discussed household, economic, socio-political problems. After the fun, they continued outside the home of the hosts. Such holidays also played an important role in establishing good-neighborly relations between residents of different settlements, expanding communal ties and the horizons of peasants.



a temple feast, peasant, celebration, memoirs, festive ritual culture, public life, Galicia.



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