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Traditions of the Green Week and the Ritual of Erecting the Vikha on Pereyaslavshchyna: The Past and Contemporaneity

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The authors of the publication:
Fihurnyi Yuriy, Shkira Mykola, Shkira Liudmyla
p.:
98-109
UDC:
398.332.2(477.41)
Bibliographic description:
Fihurnyi, Yu., Shkira, M., Shkira, L. (2017) Traditions of the Green Week and the Ritual of Erecting the Vikha on Pereyaslavshchyna: The Past and Contemporaneity. Folk Art and Ethnology, 3 (367), 98–109.

Authors

Fihurnyi Yuriy – a Ph.D. in History, a research fellow of the Research Branch Museum of Folk Architecture and Folkways of Middle Over-Dnipro Lands of the National Historical and Ethnographic Preserve Pereyaslav.

Shkira Mykola – a chief of the Research Branch Museum of Folk Architecture and Folkways of Middle Over-Dnipro Lands of the National Historical and Ethnographic Preserve Pereyaslav.

Shkira Liudmyla – a chief of the Research Branch Museum of Folk Overland Transport of Middle Over-Dnipro Lands of the National Historical and Ethnographic Preserve Pereyaslav.

 

Traditions of the Green Week and the Ritual of Erecting the Vikha on Pereyaslavshchyna: The Past and Contemporaneity

 

Abstract

The article studies traditions of observing the Green Week and the rite of erecting the vikha (ritual stake) on Pereyaslavshchyna. It also analyses ethnographic sources and materials of auctorial research, as well as ascertains the significance of preserving and further developing Ukrainian ethno-cultural traditions.

Throughout centuries, Ukrainians have created a distinctive ethno-cultural complex, whose significant parts are Ukrainian primordial traditions, customs and rituals. Among the most interesting and sacral spring and summer ritual actions, the Green holidays (Green wakes, Green Week, Whitsunday, Pentecost, etc.) occupy one of the most honourable places. They combined ancient magic of our ancestors with canonized Orthodox feast of the Trinity (worship of the All-Christian doctrine of continuity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost).

The Green Week traditionally begins on the seventh week after Easter, on Thursday, chiefly lasts seven days and comes to an end on next Thursday that was called, by Ukrainians, a romantic name Mermaid’s Easter. The leading motif of the Green holidays – the honouring of souls, the commemoration of deceased ancestors and nature spirits, and the joining of three worlds: Heaven, Earth and Underworld.

Such joining took place by the instrumentality of erecting the Green Week’s cultic tree – Vikha (ritual stake) – an oak, a sycamore maple, a poplar, etc. In the opinion of modern Ukrainian researchers, this ritual action is straight and immediately related to the rite of leading the poplar and bush in other ethnographic Ukrainian regions. It contributed to establishing the connections between the beyond and the living world.

For many centuries, Christianity was unable to eradicate the beliefs of ancient Ukrainians; therefore, it had to adapt them to religious tenets. In turn, in the 20th century, Communo-Bolsheviks tried in every possible way to exterminate both the Christian values and traditional Ukrainian customs and rituals. Despite the totalitarian terror and oppression against the Ukrainian people, they, upon sustaining huge losses, managed to keep both the faith in God and their primordial customs and rites.

One of the most effective keepers of Ukrainian folk heritage became research workers of the Open-Air Museum (Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyi). In particular, in 1985, at the Pereyaslav Skansen, there was held for the first time the ethnographic celebration of the Green Week and there was erected a vikha. Since then, almost every year, at the Open-Air Museum takes place this sacred and magical action uniting the past, present and future in one inseparable entirety. In our opinion, both annual observance of the Green holidays in the Pereyaslav Skansen and erecting a Vikha not only conduce to preserving ancient customs and ceremonies of our ancestors, but also contribute to developing distinctive folk traditions and to further functioning and spreading of the Ukrainian ethno-cultural complex. All this gives a chance for Ukrainians not to vanish in immense globalization world but to coalesce and successfully advance as an active political nation.

Erecting vikhas is an important ceremony for Ukrainian people’s cultural traditions related to folk traditions and beliefs. It has an exceptional global value, and therefore, it can be considered a part of all humanity’s heritage requiring its inclusion on the list of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

 

Keywords

Pereyaslavshchyna, Green Week, vikha (ritual stake), rituals, identity, Museum of Folk Architecture and Folkways of Middle Over-Dnipro Lands.

 

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