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Russian Folk Beliefs: Baptism Rituals

Posted By Paul On May 16, 2012 @ 7:48 am In Customs,Folk Beliefs,Gestation, birth, and infancy,Magic,Protection,Rituals, festivals, holidays | Comments Disabled

Interview Extraction:

Informant: “At least in the old times, you are having a baby- I mean you had a baby, right? And before the baby is baptized in that period like, nobody is supposed to see that baby because you know like, evil people or evil spirits can kind of be attached and stay with the kid forever. So, like usually if you have the baby on the stroller it would be covered with something. Or just only parents and relatives would be able to look at the baby or play with the baby. But after the baby is baptized it means that the baby is protected.”

Analysis:

I have heard of this superstition before in a pervious class where I researched Russian folklore, though I thought it was interesting that my informant explained that  the tradition of covering the baby before it’s baptism is no longer done.  The reason why this tradition is no longer done in Russia, except in highly religious families, probably has something to do with the fact that the Soviet Union discouraged the practice of all religions, not just Christianity.  The Soviet Union policy on religion comes from Marxism-Leninism ideology which pushes the idea that religion is idealist and bourgeois, which lead the Soviet Union to adopt atheism as the national doctrine of the USSR.

The ritual of not showing the newborn baby to anyone before the baptism to protect the child from evil spirits is also an interesting idea.  This is because this shows a blending of Christian and pagan beliefs, which is also known as ‘double belief’.  The Christianization of Russia occurred during the mid 10th century, and instead of replacing the Slavic pagan beliefs, the Russian peasants saw this new religion as something to add on to their old religion.  Russian superstitions today still feature customs and beliefs that are a mix of the Christian and Slavic pagan beliefs, which can be seen the the Russian baptism ritual.

My informant was born in 1977, Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia).  On completing her undergraduate education in Moscow, she moved to California to earn her graduate degree in theatrical design from Cal State Long Beach.  She now works as a faculty member for the USC School for Dramatic Arts.  She became a US citizen in 2012.


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URL to article: http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=9578