Where Christianity meets paganism: Belarus’ Palesse residents decorate ‘stony girls’

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The Easter tradition of honouring ancient crosses still exists in the villages of Baravoye and Danilevichy in the Belarusian psrt of the historical region of Palesse.

According to the local legend, a girl named Evka worked in the fields together with her motherю It looked like rain, but the girl was lazy about reaping, and the mother got angry with her. In a fit of temper, she cursed her daughter. At that moment, there was a burst of thunder and the girl was petrified.

Residents and guests come to ‘stony girls’ and leave presents – towels, toys and Easter eggs. In return, they seek their assistance and help.
On Easter, local women always change ‘Evka’ into a new frock.

 

The ‘girl’ is treated with Easter cakes and eggs.
Some visitors ‘give’ Evka silver earrings and money.
Some people still believe that the innocent girl can help them in their troubles.
Last year’s gifts are burnt.

 

 

An elderly woman tells a story.

 

Ethnographers and amateurs of the Belarusian pre-Christian cultural heritage are trying to . solve the mystery of the stony girls. The samples recently taken by specialists will help to find out the approximate time of their appearing.

Vyachaslau Radzimich

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