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Folk Religiosity on the Borderland: The Rite “Svecha” (“Candle”) and Its Variants

Folkloristika 4/1 (2019): 9‒61
Аuthors: Ol'ga V. Belova i Andrej B. Moroz
Text: PDF


The paper discusses the rite Svecha (Candle), its variants, terminology, distribution, provides a critical overview of previous publications and introduces new field and archival materials. As a result of studying and mapping the just published data and analysis of new materials, the conclusion is made that the Svecha ritual is spread not only on the Belarusian-Russian borderland, but also in central Belarus and on the Belarusian-Polish borderland. The authors arrive at a conclusion that the genesis and development of the rite was favoured not by the ethno-cultural Belarusian-Russian borderland, but by the confessional Orthodox-Catholic, and the whole territory of modern Belarus can be understood in this sense as a borderland. It is suggested that the structure of the rite and a number of its details are partially borrowed from Catholic religious practices, that the main function of the rite is to maintain religious identity and that in the Soviet time the rite performed the same role as during the epoch of Catholic-Orthodox confrontation.
Keywords: folk religiosity, ceremonies, folklore, arealogy, calendar, Belarusian-Russian and Belarusian-Polish borderlands