home / congresses / SIEF2013

SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July

(P61)

Feast and ritual in the regeneration of society

Location Ülikooli 18, 228
Date and Start Time 02 July, 2013 at 14:45

Convenors

Ella Johansson (Uppsala University) email
Rasa Paukštytė - Šaknienė (Lithuanian Institute of History) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

The session explores the role of reoccurring feasts and rituals in relations

to a local or state based political or societal context. How do feasts in

terms of enacted "traditions" become vehicles of political or societal

projects and how do they recycle, mediate between and bring together various

visions of pasts and futures?

Long Abstract

In classical social theory reoccurring feasts and cyclic rituals form the

basis of how social cohesion and common values are created, distributed and

upheld. Rituals and repeated orders of the feast and the festive can promote

elements of stability and change i.e. in terms of expressing old and

emerging cosmologies or political orders as constant and stable. This

session explores relations between specific reoccurring feasts of various

scales, in private and public life, with major political and societal

issues. How do the recreational potential of the cyclic feast process these

issues and contribute to the regeneration of society? How is this

regeneration related to continuity and change in specific cases? How does

the feast circulate and redistribute values attributed to various visions of

pasts and futures? What is generated, innovated or renewed in the seemingly

repetitive form of the feast?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Impersonating the human

Author: Ella Johansson (Uppsala University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper concerns a ritual on the day of a childs baptism. The godmother’s behaviour followed a corpus of prescriptions of magic measures that had to be observed in order to shape the child as social being and was at the same time a physical impersonification of what a good human being should be.

Long Abstract

Folklore material collected in the first years of the 20th century representing a memory material of the second half of the 19th century display a "belief" that a baptised child would be like its carrier. The godmother's behaviour during the day of baptism followed a corpus of prescriptions of magic measures that had to be observed in order to shape the child as social being. The records can be read as sources of conceptions of personhood, the good human being, good social relations and the role of gender in these norms.

The material addresses classic questions such as the relation between structure and agency in social theory or between ritual, myth and belief in religion. It allows a study of ritual as action; as choreography and its physical interpretation performed by the body, a cultural transmission of core values, not necessarily mediated through language. The godmother's representation of the good human could be described in terms of mimesis, imitation and performativity, concepts that are important in present gender- and queer theory. How and when was gender relevant for the human being impersonated or imitated by the baby´s carrier? Why was a woman appropriate to impersonate good personhood and how could she e.g. stand as a prototype for a baby boy?

Calendar festival in a family: Christmas Eve and Christmas in Lithuania

Author: Rasa Paukštytė - Šaknienė (Lithuanian Institute of History)  email

Short Abstract

The aim of this report is to reveal the changes in the customs of Christmas Eve and Christmas in contemporary Lithuania as well as the role of these changes in the structure of the ritual year.

Long Abstract

The aim of this report is to reveal the changes in the customs of Christmas Eve and Christmas in contemporary Lithuania as well as the role of these changes in the structure of the ritual year. After Soviet occupation socialistic traditions started being formed in Lithuania considering ideological interests of that period of time. Scripts of newly formed festivals were being created. The majority of festivals were communal ones and were adapted for the celebration in the city. On the other hand, calendar customs celebrated in a family did not receive a considerable attention of ideologists. Little attention was drawn to these issues also by ethnologists. Still the analysis of the situation in the eighties of the 20th century proves that "the majority of old feasts of the folk, which were considered to be religious and widely spread, are commemorated by the believers only; however Easter and Christmas are celebrated almost everywhere. They are regarded as traditional family feasts". Hence, these feasts gained great significance in the period of national revival. After 1988 public discussions about the aspirations to "revive" old traditions were more and more common. It might have been accomplished in a family most easily. According to the fieldwork in Vilnius city in 2011 the youth distinguished Christmas Eve and Christmas as the most traditional feasts taken over from grandparents and parents. Also, these festivals were notified as the most preferable Calendar and family events.

"The age-old Cossack feast of the intercession": the contemporary interpretation of a traditional calendar date

Author: Nina Vlaskina (Russian Academy of Sciences, Southern Scientific Centre, Institute of Social and Economic Research and Humanities)  email

Short Abstract

The paper analyses the form and content of the feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God in modern Russian Cossack communities. The tools used by modern Cossacks to declare their status and goals are discussed.

Long Abstract

In the modern Russia the official Cossacks community tends to construct new cultural forms by enhancing preexisting forms with new content, in order to reinforce their social status.

This paper analyses the form and content of the feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God in present Russian Cossack communities. Participants of the Cossack movement call this feast "the major national feast of the Cossack," while the pre-revolutionary sources characterize it as an element of the ritual year. The reasons of such attribution and the functions of feast's timed events are examined. The components of the holiday appeared at different historical stages are systematized.

One of them is demonstration of military skills (horse race, fancy riding etc.) and manoeuvres. They were a characteristic part of the Cossack holidays in the XIX century. Being a part of current celebrations timed to the festival of the Protection of the Virgin, they either are stored in the form close to the previous or transform into reenactors' competition. They get the name "The Cossack Saviour", "shermitsii, the national Cossacks' game". It is argued that due to the loss of the functional component (training to the service) the focus of the action is transferred to the entertainment component, despite a declaration to the contrary.

The legitimacy for new forms is established by the use of the definitions "traditional, national, original" in relation to them. Declared revival of Cossack traditions in fact finds expression in a random combination of different attributes, objects and actions.

Politics and changes in selection of tradition: from regional to pro-European orientation of the feast of St.Martin

Authors: Juraj Belaj (Institute of Archaeology)  email
Filomena Sirovica  email

Short Abstract

Using the example of the feast of St. Martin in a small town in Northwestern Croatia, the authors track the changes which the feast has undergone in the recent period – a period which was politically turbulent and marked by frequent shifts in political orientation.

Long Abstract

Using the example of the feast of St. Martin in a small town in Northwestern Croatia, the authors track the changes which the feast has undergone in the recent period - a period which was politically turbulent and marked by frequent shifts in political orientation. St. Martin has been the Patron Saint of this small town for a very long time and the celebration of the town's Founders Day has been included in the feast of St. Martin. Hence, image building of the town is closely linked to St. Martin.

By following the feast of St. Martin through different time periods (from the communist period in Yugoslavia to the recent periods marked by Croatia's preparation to joint the EU), the authors have analyzed the practices which, from the entire symbolic inventory related to St. Martin, have selected the elements which are closely connected with politics. Those elements are commonly, but unjustifiably, linked to certain historical facts and this new re-interpretation emphasizes their 'firm' and 'obvious' relationship. In this process, St. Martin has evolved from a local, regional Saint, who baptizes grape must each Fall, to the Saint who has "again" returned from France, which made this little town a part of the network of the places following the tradition of St. Martin, a certain European cultural itinerary. Furthermore, the re-interpretations of the recent local archeological findings have, in certain town celebratory occasions, "brought to life" the history of the Knights Templar, a pro-European symbol par excellance.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.