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Birch Tree as a Symbol of Russia
April 16, 2019 16:56


Russia is an enormous country that impresses with its vast territories and diverse wildlife. Fascinating landscapes, clear lakes, unusual animals and ethnic atmosphere – all of that puts a deep imprint on every traveler, who is fortunate enough to observe the unofficial symbols of Russia. One of these symbols is the birch tree, a favorite tree of the native Russian people. Why is the birch an unofficial symbol of Russia?
For centuries, Russian poems, songs, proverbs and fairy tales have been dedicated to the birch tree. What a significant role this tree plays in the artistic culture, namely the visual arts of Russia! Russian artists vied to paint this graceful and gentle tree. In Russian folklore, the birch is often compared with a slender beautiful girl and her romantic nature.
So obviously, no other tree is as near and dear to the Russian soul as the birch.

The Symbol of Eternal Spring and Life
From time immemorial the birch was considered here the patroness and ancestor of all living things. This attitude was largely reflected in the daily life of the Russian people. Thus, letters were written on birch bark, some food products were kept in birch bark boxes, and house rooms were lit up with none other but birch splinters.
One of the oldest and healthiest national drinks of the Russians is the birch sap, which is not only very tasty and refreshing, but also medicinal and popular with both young and old. The mine of vitamins contained in it significantly boosts the immunity and improves health.

Well, take the Russian steambath (banya) alone. Russia can hardly be even imagined without it. And these are none other than birch twigs, which are considered the best for banya.
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Birch Tree in Russian Holidays
Speaking about the ancient traditions, it should be noted that the celebration of various folk holidays in Russia could not do without the participation of this elegant tree. For example, in the past the Slavs counted the calendar year starting from spring and not winter. Therefore the most appropriate tree for it was the birch. It was during this period, when the days were getting longer, and people could finally resume agricultural work after the winter and joyfully thanked the birch for this renewal.

Birch Tree as the Patroness of All Girls
For a long time the Slavs believed in the existence of various mythical creatures, such as mermaids, spirits, and the like. To protect themselves from their influence, people worshiped the goddess Bereginya, the progenitress of all the living beings. And they worshiped it in the form of the birch, which was already considered a sacred tree. During such a celebration, the birch tree was dressed up in a traditional women's outfit and became the centre of merry round dances till late night.


Girls in Russia were especially sensitive to the tree as a symbol of female beauty and benevolence. They talked to it and sang songs to it. They washed their faces with birch sap, so that they would have eternal beauty and health. In general, the birch tree symbolized happiness and well-being. Couples in love would often arrange their dates under the birch tree in Russian villages. For these many reasons, probably, the Russians always associated the birch tree with the homeland.
Russian Tradition of Birchbark Craft
Birchbark Manuscripts
Shemogodsky Birchbark Carving
Birchbark Handicraft
Stereotypes about Russia: Drunk Bears with Balalaikas and Matryoshkas

 




Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Customs     

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