Accepted Paper:

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


Nina Vlaskina (Russian Academy of Sciences, Southern Scientific Centre)

Paper 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.

Paper 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.

Panel P61
Feast and ritual in the regeneration of society