Thursday, 12 July 2018
In Celtic calendar the year is divided into two main parts (white and dark part of the year) by Bealtaine – the beginning of the summer and Samhain – the beginning of the winter.
In Serbian calendar the year is divided into two main parts (white and dark part of the year) by St George’s day – the beginning of the summer and St Mitar’s day – the beginning of the winter.
For sheep herders in Serbia these two dates had special meaning.
The beginning of the white part of the year, St George’s day, was the time of the year when lambing season was officially over. Lambs were separated from their mothers and milking season began. This was also the time when sheep were driven to the highland pastures where they would spend summer and autumn.
The end of the white part of the year, St Mitar’s day, was the time when the milking season ended and the sheep were driven back down into the valleys where they would spend the winter and spring.
Serbian customs and rituals related to the St George’s day are mostly remnants of the old pagan religion which was replaced by Christianity. And in the old pagan religion, St George was known as Jarilo, the bright, burning, scorching one. Interestingly the Celtic counterpart of Jarilo’s day, Beltane means „the day of the bright fire“…
These rituals start on the day before St George’s day.
The day starts early in the morning when young men and women go to the meadows and forests to pick medicinal herbs and flowers. The girls would then take the medicinal herbs and flowers to the nearest flowing water where they would make wreaths.
Some of these wreaths were ceremonially „drowned“ (thrown) in the river as an offering. Girls would also spray each other with water.