Doukhobor Genealogy Website  
 

Calendar of Doukhobor Holidays in the Caucasus

 

by Jonathan J. Kalmakoff

 

Our Doukhobor ancestors celebrated a number of holidays rich in tradition and meaning.  Many were borrowed and adapted from the Orthodox Church calendar.  Others were deeply rooted in pagan Russian folk belief.  Often associated with seasonal change, these holidays were times when the Doukhobors broke their normal weekly or monthly routine to celebrate together, socialize and worship.  The following is a calendar of holidays celebrated by Doukhobors in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Caucasus, including their Russian and equivalent English names, the new style (Gregorian) and old style (Julian) calendar dates on which they occurred and a summary explanation of their religious and folk significance. 

 


Holiday

 

Old Style

New Style

Significance

Novyi God

 

 

New Year

1-Jan

14-Jan

The end of the old year and beginning of the new year. 

Vasil'ev Den'

 

 

St. Vasily's Day

1-Jan

14-Jan

In memory of St. Vasily (Basil) the Great, 4th century bishop of Caesarea and theologian, patron saint of Bogdanovka village.

Kreshcheniye

 

 

Epiphany

6-Jan

19-Jan

The shining forth and revelation of Christ as the Messiah at the time of his baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan.

Maslenitsa

 

 

Butter Week

8th week before Easter

 

In folk tradition, a sun festival heralding the imminent end of winter. In Christian tradition, the last week before the onset of Lent. Also called Maslena.

Soroki

 

 

Day of the Forty Martyrs  

9-Mar

 22-Mar

In memory of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, 4th century Christian Roman soldiers martyred for their faith. In folk tradition, the welcoming of spring.

Blagoveshcheniye

 

 

Annunciation

25-Mar

7-Apr

The revelation to Mary, the mother of Christ by the archangel Gabriel that she would conceive a child to be born the Son of God.

Verbnoe Voskresen'e

 

 

Palm Sunday

Sunday before Easter

The triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, when palm leaves were strewn before him, in the days before his Passion.

Egorev Dení

 

 

St. Egoriiís Day

23-Apr

6-May

In memory of St. Egorii (George), 3rd century Roman soldier venerated as a Christian martyr.  In folk tradition, the turning out of cattle to spring pasture.

Strastnaya Nedelya

 

 

Holy Week

Week before Easter

The week between Palm Sunday and Easter, commemorating the Passion and Christ's death on the cross. Also called Strashnaya.

Velikaya Pyatnitsa

 

 

Good Friday

Friday before Easter

The arrest, trial, crucifixion, suffering, death and burial of Christ.

Paskha

 

 

Easter Sunday

First Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox.

The resurrection of Christ from the dead three days after his death by crucifixion. 

Krasnaya Gorka

 

 

Glorious Hill

Sunday after Easter

In folk tradition, a spring festival named after the high places where it was originally held, when rivers rose and flooded, making lowlands inaccessible. 

Zheny Mironositsy

 

 

Sunday of the  Myrrhbearers

2nd Sunday after Easter

Proclamation of angels before the myrrh-bearing women at the empty tomb that Christ had risen from the dead.  Also called Zheny.

Vosneseniye

 

 

Ascension

Thursday after the 5th Sunday after Easter

Christ's bodily ascent to Heaven in the presence of his disciples, following his resurrection.

Troitsa

 

 

Trinity

7th Sunday after Easter

The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and followers of Christ while they were gathered to pray.  Also a remembrance of deceased Doukhobor leaders.

Petrov Dení

 

 

St. Peter and Paulís Day

29-Jun

12-Jul

In memory of the Apostles St. Peter and Paul, martyred in 1st century Rome.  Also, the name day of Doukhobor leaders Petr Kalmykov and Petr Verigin.

Lushechkin Pokos

 

 

Lushechkaís Mowing

15-Jul c. 28-Jul c.

A thanksgiving festival held during haying time, associated with Doukhobor leader Lukeria Kalmykova.  Also called Kalmykov Pokos.

Ilyin Den'

 

 

St. Ilya's Day

20-Jul

2-Aug

In memory of St. Ilya (Elijah), 9th century BC Hebrew prophet of God's judgment. In folk tradition, associated with thunderstorms and rain.

Uspeniye

 

 

Assumption

15-Aug

28-Aug

The bodily taking of the Mary, the mother of Christ, from earth to Heaven after her death.

Frolov Dení

 

 

St. Frol and Lavrís Day

18-Aug

31-Aug

In memory of St. Frol (Florus) and Lavr (Laurus), twin brothers martyred for their faith in 3rd century Ilyria, patron saints of Gorelovka.  Also called Khrol.

Pokrov

 

 

Intercession

1-Oct

14-Oct

The 10th century deliverance of Constantinople from raiders by the appearance of Mary, the mother of Christ, who prayed for and protected the people.

Den' Kazanskoi Bogomateri

 

Day of Our Lady of Kazan

22-Oct

4-Nov

In memory of Our Lady of Kazan, an icon of Mary, mother of Christ, popular in Russia since the 16th century and credited with repelling foreign invaders.

Mikhailov Dení

 

 

St. Mikhail's Day

8-Nov

21-Nov

In memory of St. Mikhail (Michael) the Archangel, one of the principal angels of Heaven, patron saint of Efremovka.

Nikolin Dení

 

 

St. Nikolai's Day

6-Dec

19-Dec

In memory of St. Nikolai (Nicholas) the Wonderworker, 4th century bishop of Myra and theologian, patron saint of Troitskoye.

Rozhdestvo Khristovo

 

Christmas

25-Dec

7-Jan

The birth of Christ.

Sviatki

 

 

Holy Days

25-Dec to

7-Jan

7-Jan to

20-Jan

In folk tradition, a winter solstice festival.  In Christian tradition, the period between Christ's birth and baptism.


 

Notes

 

In Canada, the celebration of these traditional holidays was abolished in the early 1900ís by Doukhobor leader Petr Vasilyevich Verigin, who considered them to be unnecessary and superfluous to the spiritual development of his followers. The exception was Petrov Dení, which continued to be celebrated by Doukhobors who left Veriginís communal organization in Canada to become independent farmers. With several exceptions, these holidays continue to be observed by Doukhobors in Russia and the Former Soviet Republics.

 


 

Sources

  • Bonch-Breuvich, V.D., Psalom 383 (Prazdniki) in Zhivotnaia Kniga Dukhobortsev (Winnipeg: Union of Doukhobors of Canada, 1954).

  • Grigulevich, Nadezhda. "The Doukhobors of Georgia: traditional food and farming" in Koozma J. Tarasoff (ed). Spirit-Wrestlers' Voices, Honouring Doukhobors on the Centenary of their migration to Canada in 1899  (Ottawa: Legas, 1998).

  • Inikova, Svetlana A. Holidays and Rituals of Doukhobors in the Caucasus. Retrieved 01.12.06 from the Doukhobor Genealogy Website: http://www.doukhobor.org/Holidays.htm.

  • Ivanits, Linda J. Russian Folk Belief. (Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 1989).

  • Popoff, Eli A. Correspondence to Jonathan J. Kalmakoff re: Ilyin Den', June 4, 2007.

  • Strukoff, Fred A. "Areshenkoff, Misha and Masha (Moojelsky)" in History coming alive : R.M. of St. Philips, Pelly and district. Volume 1. (Pelly: St. Philips/Pelly History Book Committee, 1988).

This article was reproduced by permission in the following journals and periodicals:

  • ISKRA No.1997 (Grand Forks: USCC, 2007).

  • The DOVE No. 76 (Saskatoon, DCSS, 2007).