Semik

(redirected from Rusalnaya Week)

Semik

 

an ancient Slavic ceremony associated with the cult of the dead and the spring agricultural cycle. The ceremony was performed in forests, on river banks, and in cemeteries. Participants wove wreaths, which they hung on birch trees and cast into water; sang special songs; performed round dances; and served special foods.

Semik was observed in central and southern Russia and the Ukraine, usually on the Thursday of the seventh week after Easter. The week was called semitskaia nedelia, Semik week. The Russian Semik week corresponded to “green week,” or Whitsuntide, in the Ukraine, “green week” in Poland and Lithuania, and rusalda in Bohemia and Slovakia.

Semik

May-June; seventh Thursday after Easter
In pre-revolutionary Russia, Semik—from semy, meaning "the seventh"—took place on the seventh Thursday after Easter and was observed primarily by young girls. They would go to the woods and pick birch branches, decorating them with ribbons and wreaths. Then they would throw the wreaths into the nearest brook or river. If the wreath stayed on the surface, it meant that they would be married in a year, but if it sank, it meant that they would remain single—or, if married, would soon be widowed. In some areas the wreaths were hung on trees, and as long as they remained there, the girls would have good fortune. Another custom associated with the Semik was the performance of traditional songs and dances by young girls and boys in the forest, often around a decorated birch tree.
In pagan times, the Semik was the feast of a wood god, celebrated at the time of year when the new leaves first appeared on the trees. Since it was the young girls who spent most of their time in the forest picking berries and mushrooms while the women worked in the fields, it is likely that the wreaths hung on the trees were at one time an offering to the wood god.
See also Wianki Festival of Wreaths
SOURCES:
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 350
OxYear-1999, p. 645