« 2023. # 3 (171)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2023. № 3 (171), 597—606

UDK [398.332.416:398.47](=161.2)

DOI https://doi.org/10.15407/nz2023.03.597



  • ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1039-2920
  • Ph.D. in history, senior researcher,
  • The Ethnology Institute
  • of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine,
  • Department of Modern Ethnology,
  • 15, Svobody Avenue, 79000, Lviv, Ukraine,
  • Contacts: e-mail: o-sereb@ukr.net

Abstract. Folk divination is an important component of the ancient and traditional culture of Ukrainians in particular of calendar ritualism.

The aim of the offered article is coverage of the layer of customs and rituals, worldview phenomena associated to divination by candle on Holy Eve.

The object of the research is the traditional worldview, the customs and rite culture of the residents of different regions of Ukraine, and the subject — mantic ritual actions with a candle based on the observation of the «behavior» of smoke and fire, which Ukrainians resorted to on Holy Eve. Local beliefs and omens related to the prediction of life cycle events, harvest and weather are characterized.

The basis of the article are the materials of the field research, local folklore articles and works of the twenty and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries.

The methodology of this work is based on general scientific methodological principles and the basic requirements that apply to the works of historical and ethnological direction. The author uses a various methods (field observation, comparative-historical, comparative, reconstructive, structural-semantic).

Attention was paid to the method of performing divination and the composition of their executors. In the process of divination, the direction of smoke from an extinguished candle, its burning etc. was observed. With the help of pyromantic rites on Holy Eve, residents of different regions of Ukraine, in some places even now, learn about various events of a person’s life cycle (weddings, baptisms, the life or death of someone from the family). Interpreting certain omens, they also tried to predict how successful the harvest would be, to forecast the weather. We note the wide range of living, the same functiona­lity, the same motivations of divination, which are based on the interpretation of certain analogies, semantic oppositions, symbolism, etc. In this context, mythologically marked places are important, which were associated with the location and connection to the «other» world of the souls of ancestors, household spirits, etc. The original interpretations of the results of fortune-telling with smoke, taboos on extinguishing candles, various omens, etc. can be attributed to the original phenomena that testify to the originality of ritual traditions of residents of different regions of Ukraine. Let’s note the long existence of many ancient beliefs, pyromantic customs and their partial preservation in modern times.

Keywords: mantic actions/practices (divination), Ukrainians, candle, smoke, life, death, marriage, baptism, harvest.

Received 6.04.2023


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