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The Diverse Traditions of Troitsa

Troitsa is a traditional Russian celebration that is known by different names. It is referred to as a holiday, but is not recognized amongst the bigger religious celebrations, and therefore time off work is not given during this period. The smaller villages and towns in Russia take this festival very seriously. Over the years and in different religions the meaning and symbolism of the Troitsa holiday varies greatly.

The celebration of Troitsa takes place a few weeks after the Easter Holidays. It always starts on a Sunday and ends on the Tuesday. It is also known around the world as the Pentecost or Trinity holidays or celebrations. There is an interesting twist to this folk holiday, a story that has been told for generations. The folklore surrounding this time of year (the beginning of summer) in Russia has been passed down from the Pagan Slavs. It was once celebrated in spring, and was celebrated by cleaning and decorating homes and gardens. The Pagan Slavs believed that when the first signs of summer started to appear, the mermaids that lived in the lakes and rivers of the country would come on land. While walking among the people the mermaids would bewitch the men they came in contact with, and force the men to return with them to their kingdoms under water.

But mostly, this three day celebration is held in honor of the Holy Trinity, when followers bring tree branches and boughs to the Church Service. Other traditions that usually accompany the celebration are the decorating of homes with green branches and fortune-telling. Strange as it may seem, the girls will often make garlands and wreaths and take them to the water’s edge. Here the girls will gently push their wreaths of flowers and birch tree into the water. Every action that is made by the wreath symbolizes a young girl’s road to marriage. The outcome of the future depends on if the wreath will float, sink to bottom, or find its way to the safety of the river bank. During this tradition the girls will sing and dance, and old stories of love lost and love that lasts an eternity are told.

Of all the Russian holidays, Troitsa must the most varied and diverse of them all. With so many meanings and definitions of this celebration it becomes clear that Troitsa is a celebration that is unique to many, and enjoyed, each in their own way. But no matter how locals choose to celebrate this ancient holiday, honor is paid to God and it remains a popular folk event in Russia.


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