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Traditional holidays

Traditional holidays are ethno-cultural rituals, defined by the lunisolar cycle – the calendar, and therefore may called the national calendar holidays.

Etymology of the holiday, the portent, originating from the ancient ages (the proto-portent), is similar to the concept of the proto-language and proto-ancestor – the ancestor of ancestors (grandfather, grandparent). "The very word ‘holiday’ expresses abolishment, freedom from mundane labour, connection with gladness and joy. A holiday is free time, and a rite is a signal action, an adopted method of carrying out solemn events", - concludes Ivan Snegirev (1793–1868), a Russian ethnographer [1].

Origin of holidays

The origin of holidays is usually associated with the primitive society, which is based on a belief that at that time it already celebrated the return of the hunters with their prey, birth and death, the completion of a natural disaster (hurricane, fire, earthquake, flood), as an event. However, researchers have observed spontaneity and random nature of the celebration of such events, and this fact raises doubts. Therefore, the study of rituals comes down to identifying ways to relieve negative emotions [2].

With this approach it is only possible to partly agree, because all of the above-listed are repeated over and over again. Therefore, reliance on the unexpectedness of holidays is completely pointless: we do expect hunters, await the birth and, to some extent, death (in any case, we are aware of it), and anticipate the completion of a natural disaster. Moreover, we aim to reproduce the rituals identical to how they occurred last time, and in any deviation from that performance we superstitiously see a bad sign of an ill portent. Hence the tradition was born, the meaning of which is to protect us from the accidental, introducing confusion in our expectations, - expectations of the good happening.

Hunting, death of relatives, natural disasters are inextricably linked to the change of seasons. The ability to take into account the natural rhythms serves for survival as well as sustainable food ration variation, in order to preserve posterity. Hence the dates of the holidays, identical to the lunisolar calendar, which is now universally called the "calendar".

It is possible that the very special role of the holidays inside the biorhythms of the planet is what has become the impetus to transform Nature, which we call "culture". In any case, Mikhail Bakhtin (1895–1975), a Russian philosopher, states it in this exact way: "(any) celebration is an important primary form of the human culture" [3].

The Universum of rites and celebrations

James Frazer (1854–1941), an English ethnologist, notes the unified nature and unity of purposes of rites. He postulates the natural origin of rites and celebrations, which makes their cultural space universal for all peoples. Only external ethnocultural differences are being formed over the course of time [4].

The definition of “national”

Traditional holidays are often called national holidays, or national calendar holidays. However, we are forced to question the declared national character of such holidays; for most of them, being known to the general public remained in the past, or, as an option, due to some reason has not yet taken place in the present. The thing is that the definition of "national" is equivalent to the evaluation category of "popular", and is the highest form of recognition of a holiday, artist, car, sport, etc. In this connection, the title of "national" symbolizes a high public interest, and therefore, its unjustified use as an epithet to any traditional, religious and state holiday is a dissonance in our perception.

The definition of "traditional"

National and religious holidays (as well as any public events) are often referred to as traditional; in this case, it is due to the regular character of their occurrence, taken into account. Of course, such a common definition of the traditional does not in any way correspond to the traditional culture. This is a phenomenon of the natural preservation of traditional holidays: any holiday cannot become traditional in the cultural dimension; for that, it should be initially rooted in the ethno-cultural ritual tradition.

Holidays can become national and state

It is possible to observe the metamorphoses of a cultural paradigm shift in the change of the status of holidays, for example, when traditional and religious holidays become national ones, or when religious holidays absorb national and traditional ones.

Society’s striving to enhance the role certain holidays turns them into a chronotope, the function of which is the public display of the connection between times, and harmonization of the past in the present.

Author: A.V. Kylasov


1. Snegirev I.M. Russian Common Holidays and Superstitious Rites, 1837.

2. Yeremeev A.F. Primitive Culture/A.F. Yeremeev. Part 2, 1997.

3. Bakhtin M.M. Creativity of Rabelais and Popular Culture of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, 1965.

4. Frazer, James. The Golden Bough: Studies of Magic and Religion, 2012.

Relative topics:

Питер Брейгель, «Игры детей»


Lusorica is the game heritage of humanity (Lat. Lusorica, from the root of the word ludus/lusus – ‘game’ and the collective suffix). Lusorica is the name we gave to the Game Encyclopedia, which is being published on the pages of "Ethnosport" – our online journal.

Traditional Games Mepantigan Bali

Traditional Games

Traditional games are kinds of primordial play during the traditional holidays or the national calendar holidays, which are now held as ethno-cultural festivals and competitions.



Ethnosport is a form of preservation of the game heritage; it is a system of recovery of the ethnomotricité skills, inherent in the traditional way of life and lost in the conditions of urbanization.

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