In the village Sumareva, in the Nizhny Novgorod region, the main holiday of the year — spirit day. It always announced the weekends, even in Soviet times, when there was a big farm, all released from work.

Now most of the adult sumareva work “on watch” in Moscow, Sarov, or Bottom, but on the first Monday after Trinity all gather in a small country — for the sake of taking time off, carry on vacation. “New year’s eve or the Eighth of March is everywhere, and whit — only our native — explain.— Here and go home, to sing, to dance for the whole year”.

Dance and sing around the birch — tree, decorate, weave him “spit”, and then are drown on the river Moksha.

“All my life so celebrated, recalls 85-year-old Ekaterina Shoshina.— Before each Troicki went to the forest to cut down birch tree, put around the house, architraves decorated with twigs. It’s on Saturday. And on Monday the children were sent into the forest for a new birch tree, dressed it, and with songs went to Moksha”.

None of the locals can tell when and why was born this rite. Maybe it happened 400 years ago, when Sumareva founded “from Mordovians novokreshchenye peasants”. Spirit day is a Christian celebration, established in honor of the Holy spirit. But like many Orthodox holidays, has pagan traditions. In the neighboring village on this day we commemorate peasant girl Dunyasha — according to one legend, she threw herself into the river due unrequited love, and then on the cliff, grew a beautiful birch. Since then, the Spirits of the day there is also decorated with birch, named Dunyasha, and ask her for love and protection. But still wondering: are tree to the river, thrown into the water and see if you float away, the year will be fruitful, if you sink, you can expect trouble.

In Sumareva about Dunyasha few people know, and especially not guess on this day, except that the girls on the water wreaths are allowed. What wonder, if land is scarce, sand. Sumareva always rescued Moksha: local hunted fish, was engaged in transportation of goods on their boats, even hired haulers. But in whit women in all ages tried to “feed the ground” to at least once to enhance its fertility. To do this, and now satisfied with the “girl feast”: take out treats from the houses and laid out on the grass. Like share meals not only with neighbors but also with the earth below and the “eaten.”

This summer due pandemic Spirits day was not celebrated for the first time in the history of the village. And it is a great tragedy. What will happen next, what kind of year everyone is waiting for, if birch is not recessed, the earth is not nourished, and all were born here, do not come? In recent years, Sumareva already dressed up two birches because only 300 people remained in the village. And in the old days, when there were more people, every street was preparing to celebrate��ku its own tree, “Curling” his scraps, ribbons, beads and belts. “Then, on every street, and your accordion was, — says local resident Tatyana Lobacheva.— Go ahead with the birch, behind the harmonica, but already there is a dance: who’s limericks, then who…” Street streams flowed into the main stream. The first column always were “bearers” with the birches. Then — music. Further, all people, young and old, and bringing up the rear “heavy machinery” — grandma with bicycles.

Now only remains to look at those pictures where still together. And hope that the earth will forgive the lack of celebration, the river is not enraged for evermore, and the Spirit will help.

Photos and text: Marina Makovetskaya, Nizhny Novgorod oblast