Transformation of the Traditional Death Connected Customs: Loss and Modification of Their Elements
Authors: Maria A. Andrunina
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The article analyzes innovations and changes in Slavic funeral and remembrance rites, the most unchanging and archaic branch of tradition culture. The paper deals mostly with two ways of their modification: loss of some elements or accommodation of them to modern circumstances. Elimination of different ritual parts concerns mostly funerals of special group of dead, so called unclean (suicidal, killed, children etc.). Customs of their burial and remembrance, believes and taboo concerning their graves preserve a lot of ancient traits. Traditionally for their inhumation places beyond the sacred ground of cemetery were chosen, often in wilderness: woods, fields, road sides and crossroads, sometimes even marshes. Some were buried in estates or houses (mostly children); this practice persisted for some time in the Eastern Polesye. These rituals and corresponding beliefs are dying away now.
Another option of changes is accommodation to a new way of life. Example of this was recently found in field in Mogilewsky region. Mobility of new generations, when people work far from home, endangers well known spring remembrance practice held in cemeteries. That is why they put a tablecloth over the coffin during burial in order to have it there if nobody comes in spring to cover the grave and commemorate the deceased. Of course, there are other ways of alteration: giving new meaning to old customs, adaptation from neighboring regions and nations etc. So, even the strictest and unyielding tradition can change with the tide of time. And the weakest links are proved to be those connected with the archaic notions of traditional culture that in general might be referred to as mythological worldview.