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Ossetian holidays and celebrations
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There are many holidays celebrated in different gorges and villages of Ossetia that are very distinct from each other in content and way of celebration. It is not possible to describe them all in this project. The holidays mentioned here, are in one way or the other, common for most of Ossetian population. 

 

Some materials from the book Ossetian Customs by Gastan Agnaev were used in this article. We want to express our gratitude and appreciation to the author, as well as to everyone who worked on this useful book and we recommend the visitors of the web site to get a copy at the bookstores in Vladikavkaz. We are sure that you will not regret this purchase.  

 

 

NOG AZ - NEW YEAR'S EVE. 

On January 1st, people in the world are celebrating the first day of the New Year. Ossetians, just like other nations, like this holiday and start preparing for it long before the actual holiday. Variety of drinks and dishes, fruits, three pies, fizonag (Ossetian Shish Kebab) are put out on the table. Families with children put up a Christmas tree and decorate it. 

 

New Year Eve is a family holiday, but many invite neighbours, relatives, friends because celebrating with close ones is always much more enjoyable. 

The elder who is the head of the table prays to God and asks for all the troubles to stay in the parting year, and for all positive things to enter into the New Year. 

At 12 oclock, when New Year officially arrives, the elder prays again, asking for the New Year to bring everyone all the best and entrusts the family and everyone else to God and all His saints. 

 

The meal continues all the way until morning, with one toast after another, people wish each other health and happiness. There is music, jokes and laughter that can be heard from every house. This is the most enjoyable holiday for children. They receive plenty of presents, toys, clothes, sweets and they are usually allowed to play the whole night.  

 

 

DONISKAFAN 

(Celebration of Scooping Water/ Water fest) 

This was celebrated 6 days after the New Year. A young bride or one of the young ladies would take basilta* already prepared during New Year and would go to get water early in the morning. The earlier they did it, the better. It was believed that the family that got water the earliest, would receive Gods grace and favour. 

Women, who came for water, threw basilta in the water and prayed: Let these basilta please the mermaids and may they help our families not to have shortage of anything. 

The women could not talk on their way back. They besprinkled the floor, walls and corners of the house with this water, as well as washed their faces with it and saved it for later. 

With this water, they prayed to God. People believe that it cleansed souls, and that is why every family considered it their duty to go for it early and bring it in a large enough quality, so that it could last for a while.  

 

Basilta*-New Years buns in the shape of animals and people 

 

 

BINATI HITSAUI AHSAV 

(Holiday of the Protector of the Household) 

This holiday is celebrated during the first week of the New Year, at night from Tuesday to Wednesday. Based on Ossetian belief, every household, every family has their own Protector and one has to ask for its patronage to live in happiness and prosperity. Ossetians say a prayer for him at every celebratory or wedding meal. 

During earlier times, our ancestors have brought him a sheep or a little goat as a sacrifice, but now people cut a chicken or a cock.  

The animal was prepared in such a way, so that the parts would stay whole and not cut up. Meat was put on the table along with pies and drinks and the head of the household pronounced a prayed: O Binati Hitsau, let us have your kindness. Dont let us make mistakes and spare us from any unhappiness. May the members of our household as well as our animals be under your protection. Hear our sincere prayers and may you like everything that we prepared for you. This wont be our last gift, to you... 

It was not appropriate to feed random people with food prepared for the holiday Binati Hitsau. Only the family members could have it.  

 

 

HAJRADZHITY AHSAV 

(Night of Devils, similar to western Halloween) 

It is believed that once upon a time, people and devils lived together, but then there started a feud between them. Ouastirdzhi banished devils, but people were still afraid of them and to keep the devils kind to them, they celebrated devils night.  

Usually a young goat was sacrificed for Hajradzhiti Ahsav. There was a belief that goats were created by devils themselves and that is why they would rather receive a goat as a sacrifice. However, depending on the wealth of the family, other animals that could be sacrificed were black chickens, cocks or sheep. 

 

The blood of the animal was poured into a vessel and was drowned in the river or was buried in the group to make sure that no cats or dogs touch it. The same thing was done with bones and skin or feathers.  

The table was set up at midnight. When everything was ready, members of the family of all ages would go outside to let the devils have a feast. After some time, they would come back and sit at the table. 

 

Holidays Binati Hitsau and Hajradzhiti Ahsav demonstrate that every household and every family has its own Protector and its own Devil (hajradzhi haj). People pray to Binati Hitsau to keep the house and the family in wealth and happiness and ask the devils not to come close to the house and not to bring any troubles. 

Hakradzhiti Ahsav is celebrated nowadays. Usually a chicken or a cock is sacrificed. It is not allowed to feed strangers with the food prepared for this night. Only household members are allowed to eat it, otherwise the devils may get angry. 

 

 

NOG BON 

New Years Eve in the old style, one of the favorite holidays of Ossetians, is celebrated from 12-14 of January. 

Nog Bon is associated with solstice-there is a reason why our ancestors prayed: May our life become longer the same way the day gets longer. 

At dawn, every family started a fire in front of the house. Everyone wanted his fire to be larger and brighter and that is why a village was full of light, the tongues of flame were stretching up to the sky. People gathered around fires with younger people singing. As fire was burning out, everyone wished that all troubles and misfortunes would burn down with it. 

 

It was important to start organizing and preparing the food for the meal a little bit ahead of time. It was believed that the more abundant is the table, the richer will be the upcoming year. The most important place was taken by Arthuron-a large pie that symbolized sun. Every member of the house had to have a piece and it was not appropriate to offer it to other guests. 

 

The head of the family would pronounce a prayer at the table, asking God and dzuars (Saints) created by Him to keep everyone happy during the whole year. 

For the New Year, people baked pies for Safa*, Sarizada**, Binati Hitsaua, the protector of livestock. 

New Year is a happy holiday. Young people, all dressed up in fanny or scary costumes, went to different houses, entertaining the neighbors and singing the song Let your husband kill a deer, let your wife give birth to a son and let me receive the hand of your basila. 

The family would sit and celebrate for a long time. In the morning, the first guest that enters the house, drops a handful of grains of corn, wheat and a bunch of straw, wishing this house as much luck, as the number of grains on the floor. 

For the New Year, women baked BASILTA and gave them to the guests. 

 

*Safa-a Saint, taking care of the hearth in the Ossetian mythology. 

 

**Sarizad-a sacred post, an angel-protector of the hearth. 

 

 

KUADZAN - EASTER 

One of the most favorite holidays of Ossetians, falls on the second-third Sunday of April and on the first Sunday after the full moon. The term Kuadzan-changed from komua-dzan (end of lent). This holiday apparently came from Christianity, but slightly changed its appearance.  

 

Every family prepares for Easter ahead of time-people make beer, cook meat, bake pies. Eggs take a very special place on the table: they are coloured differently, boiled and salted. Neighbors and relatives give them to each other. Nowadays, not many people follow lent, but in earlier times, to eat an egg on Easter meant the end of lent. Since Easter has also a character of a funeral repast, people would first visit families that lost a close person during the year, in order to show them their support. 

When the whole family gathered at the table, the head of the family would say a prayer: O Jesus Christ, bless us from the heavenly place, where you are! You arrange places in this world for those, who followed lent in Your Name. My family, from young to old, followed this lent. May You provide us and our relatives places in heaven with Your favour. 

The head of the family also mentioned Barastir-the Protector of the Country of the Dead.  

There was a feast on Easter. People had fun, sang and danced. This holiday would be the most exciting for young kids, who would get new clothes. They also went to various houses and everyone would give them eggs and sweets. 

 

 

BALDARAN 

This holiday takes place the first Sunday following Easter. It was celebrated in a grand style, was a week long and represented the unbreakable connection between the human being and nature. 

It is told that once a certain woodcutter went to the forest to cut wood. After cutting a tree down, he saw a few drops of blood at the spot of the cut. He was very surprised and went back to the village to tell everyone about it. After this, the holiday of Baldaran became celebrated.  

As our ancestors understood, every creature, (whether its a human, an animal or a bird, or inanimate object) has its proper pair. Baldaran is the day of their meeting. On that day, women absolutely have to wear long dresses and were not allowed to sit on the ground or on the stone to avoid conception. Also, it was not allowed to rest during the day, because if God were to see a person who is sleeping, that person would spend all year in a weak, inert condition. 

This holiday was celebrated by everyone in the village and the person responsible for organizing everything was chosen ahead of time. Baldaran is not forgotten and cherished even nowadays. 

 

 

TARANDZHELOZ 

This is one of the oldest Ossetian holidays. The sanctuary Tarandzheloz came about at the same time as sanctuaries Rekom and Mikalgabirta in the spot where three Gods tear drops fell after the death of Batradz. Tarandzheloz- Saint taking care of fertility and his sanctuary is located in the Trusovskoye (Tyrshy) ravine, on the top of a high mountain.  

This holiday is celebrated three days after Easter. It is celebrated with the whole village, but many people celebrate is also with their close family members and neighbours. As a sacrifice to this God, a sheep or lamb was brought. Beer and arak (Ossetian home made alcohol drink) were prepared ahead of time. The celebration lasted a few days. People sang and danced. Young people participated in races to show off their skills. Older generation, after completing a special praying ritual, asked Tarandzheloza for his grace so that they will never be in need of grain and bread. 

This holiday is still celebrated up to this day. 

 

 

NIKKOLA 

This is one of the oldest saints. His name was known to even Alans. In Ossetian mythology - this is a Saint, taking care of grains and everything that grows on this earth for the people. For Ossetian, he is very close to people, even though he lives in the sky. He often comes down to earth to help people with their agricultural work. 

With the arrival of spring, in every village, people sacrificed one sheep and asked Nikkola to allow good weather, harvest, health and happiness to everyone in the village. It is usually celebrated in the second half of May. 

 

 

REKOM 

This is one of the most favourite and respected holidays and it is celebrated for a full week. People from all over Ossetia went to Rekoms sanctuary and it was especially important for people who lived in Alagir ravine. This celebration has always started with the sacrifice of an animal. 

For this holiday, just like for all other big ones, such as Khetadzhi, Uastirdzhi, Uatsilla, Dzheorguba, etc., it is not allowed to put on the table pork, fish, chicken or anything that is made of these products. Pork is not allowed to be on the table at any celebration during the prayer to God - Stir Hutsau. 

 

Years ago, there were so many people who went to Rekom sanctuary that it was something like Ossetian Olympic Games. Young people were in competition with each other in dancing, singing, horse racing and archery.  

Georgians also came to Rekom. Or to better describe them, they were georginized Ossetians and something inside pushed them to go to the sanctuary of one of the oldest and most important Saints, respected by their ancestors. 

 

Some families had temporary housing close to the sanctuary, where they lived during this celebration. People were making beer and sacrificing animals, such as rams or oxen. Everyone invited each other for dinners at the table, then holding each others hands and singing, people did a walking ritual around the sanctuary. 

Women were not allowed to get close to the sanctuary, but they could send kuvinagta and priests would pronounce a prayer for them. Every village had their own priest - dzurilag, who was in charge of the celebration and collected misainag. They were barefoot, bald, holding small white flags. They walked through the rows of people and years ago, as misainag, they could give bows, arrows, buttons, beads, silver or bronze coins. 

 

Scholars suggest that this sanctuary has been built in 1382. The legend says that Uastirdzhi decided to build a sanctuary from the eternal wood for the Ossetian people. Those kinds of trees were growing in the forest behind Rekom. Uastirdzhi told his oxen to go through the icy ridges to bring those trees. Trees would fall down and fill up the carts and oxen would bring this magnificent building material. As the legend tells us, this is how this sanctuary was built, without humans help... 

Rekom is still often celebrated in Ossetia. Family members and neighbours are invited, prayers are pronounced. This holiday usually takes place in June. 

Misainag - objects or money that were always left in any visited sanctuary as a sacrifice to a certain Saint. 

 

Kuvinagta three pies, beer and certain part of the sacrificed animal - food prepared for the prayer at the sanctuary 

 

 

KARDAGHASSAN 

(Herb Fest) 

It is celebrated 30 days after Easter, in June, often in the first Sunday of the month. 

It is the last holiday of the spring. Nature, changes its look, dresses up in green and the heart is happy to see tender new grass that is stretching towards the beautiful blue sky. 

In earlier days, everything was prepared ahead of time. Traditional ualibahs (Ossetin pies with feta cheese) were made from the flour and a ram or a sheep was killed. This time villagers made pies with the filling made from the leaves of beets and other greens. 

The Elder would say a prayer to ask the sky for the lucky year, great harvest, and augmentation of livestock. 

In certain Ossetian villages, people would bake gudyn- a large pie with the filling from different eatable herbs. Every member of the house had to try it and other people were not supposed to eat this food. 

Coming from the field, people brought home bunches of herbs and flowers and threw them in different corners of the house. 

Kardaghassan is celebrated up to this day, especially in the villages in the mountainous and plain regions. 

 

 

DAUDZHITI BON 

(Day of Spirits) 

This day was celebrated a week after Kardaghassan on Sunday. Arak and beer were made; if possible, kusart (killing a sacrificed animal) was made, most of the time it was a lamb. 

After making traditional three pies and fizonag (shish kebab) from heart, liver and lungs of the animal, prayer was said out loud.  

Three triangle-shaped pies, fizonag and beer or arak were brought into the sanctuary, where the priest would pronounce the ritual prayer that was for the spirits. He asked them to help everyone around so that they would be able to celebrate this day every year. 

 

After the prayer, everyone was seated at the improvised tables, three people at each and the feast started. 

People from different villages would gather together, sing and having fun. Women always sat separately from men. During the feast, younger generations would start dancing and the fest would continue on, even after coming home. 

It was very important to invite neighbors and share with them the food and drinks. Nowadays, this holiday is less celebrated than it once used to be. 

 

 

UATSILLA 

One of the most important Saint and is the Protector of grain and everything that grows on the earth for humans. He is also called Saint of Thunder. 

 

Our ancestors-Alans were already praying to Uatsilla when they first came and started living at the bottom of the Caucasian mountains. He has great powers; people pray to him for the grass to be green and juicy, as well as when there is drought or bad weather that does not change for a long time. It is very rare when the Elder will not say a toast for Uatsilla at a wedding or any other feast. 

As the most respected Saint, Uatsilla has many sanctuaries. The main one is the one in Dargavs, on the mountain Tbau - Tbau Uatsillas Kuvandon. This holiday is celebrated in every ravine in June, two weeks after Kardaghassan and lasts a few days. Many families make kusart. Years ago, even the poorest people would sacrifice a lamb because it was not appropriate to show off poverty.  

 

For this holiday, just like for all other big ones, such as Khetadzhi, Uastirdzhi, Dzheorguba, etc., it is not allowed to put on the table pork, fish, chicken or anything that is made of these products. Pork is not allowed to be on the table at any celebration during the prayer to God - Sir Hutsau. 

Women baked pies silently, covering their faces (below eyes) with towels, to not defile them with their breath. 

 

Before sacrificing the animal, people would let him lick some salt and then would pronounce a prayer over Him, three pies and beer. After cutting the head of the animal, it was held above the fire to burn the fur and let Uatsilla know that the sacrifice was made for him. 

 

Every family would bring kuvinag to the sanctuary of Uatsilla, but nobody would actually go inside. Only a priest could go in, because Uatsilla was considered to be very powerful and could blind a person who came in without a reason. 

Also, a bowl with beer would be placed inside the sanctuary. If after a year, the amount of beer would not diminish, the year would be happy and harvest would be good. If there was less beer than before, it foreshadowed lack of harvest. 

Sometimes the priest would stay overnight in the sanctuary. It is believed that Uatsilla himself would come to the sanctuary and would pour out the beer. If it was poured out towards Ossetia, the year would be filled with happiness, no sorrow and full of harvest. 

 

People still celebrate this important holiday. Some do so with their families, others-with the whole village. Beer and arak are always prepared ahead of time. 

 

 

HETADZHI BON - DAY OF HETAG 

(literally-day of Uastirdzhi, who helped Hetag) 

The legend says that Kabardian duke Hetag ran away from people that followed to kill him because he became Christian. When they almost reached Hetag in the field, he asked Uastirdzhi: 

 

-Oh Uastirdzhi! Help me! 

Then he heard voice from above: 

-Hetag! Run to the forest! 

Unfortunately, Hetag did not have time to run all the way to the forest. Then he heard again: 

-Forest [come] to Hetag! 

 

And then there was a beautiful grove with tall trees appeared in front of him. Hetag hid there and saved himself. The Sacred Grove of Hetag is located to the east from the village Suadag in North Ossetia. This holiday became truly national. 

People come here from everywhere in Ossetia, even from South Ossetia. There is space in this grove for every village to celebrate this beautiful holiday. 

For this holiday, just like for all other big ones, such as Uastirdzhi, Uatsilla, Dzheorguba, etc., it is not allowed to put on the table pork, fish, chicken or anything that is made of these products. Pork is not allowed to be on the table at any celebration during the prayer to God - Sir Hutsau. 

 

It is necessary to come to the Grove only with kuvinagta (three pies, fizonag with one bottle of strong drink, beer and water). One cannot take anything from the Grove - Uastirdzhi will punish for that. However, this does not include the things brought by people-such as food leftover, dishes, garbage.  

This holiday usually falls on the second Sunday of July.  

 

 

KAHTSGANAN 

This holiday falls on the second Sunday of July. It used to be so respected and celebrated that many people called July Kahtsgananti Mai (Month of Kahtsganan). In Ossetia, everyone celebrates Kahts (celebration) for a newborn male baby. Earlier, it used to be done only for the oldest boy, but with time, people started celebrating it for every new born boy, because a birth of a boy has always been an important occasion. Big hopes were mounted upon him, he was not just continuing the family, but would also be responsible for the protection and well-being of the whole family in the future. 

 

Two weeks before Kahtsganan, the young mother and her newborn would go to her parents with huin( pies, fizonag, araka) to receive kahts. Parents would greet her and everyone who came with her, with a lot of respect. Neighbours would be invited and everyone would gather for a celebratory meal at the table. 

The family of the mother of the newborn would make a good present for a child and also give him everything that was needed. 

 

Wealthy relatives would give the child a horse or an ox, less wealthy would give him a ram. Friends and neighbors also gave him different gifts. Everyone back home awaited mothers arrival: everyone was interested to see what gifts were given from the relatives on the mothers side. 

If the child did not receive anything, he could take away a horse from his mothers relatives when he was a teenager. 

 

Relatives from the mothers side also got ready for Kahtsganan, as they would kill an ox or a ram. Neighbors and all relatives were invited for kuvd. 

When the baby was showered and dressed in everything new, the elder would say a prayer over the huin that was brought out by the mother. All prayers were mostly meant for Mady Mairam (Mother Maria) and Uastirdzhi. After the prayer, he would take the baby and put his finger into a bowl with dzikka (porridge from flour with cheese or sour cream) 

It was shameful to not do kahts. It was believed that if the boy did not get this celebration, he would grow to be sick and weak. That is why even if the family was not able to do it on time; they would do it at a later time. 

 

 

ZADALEKSI NANA  

(celebration of Nana from Zadalesk)  

This had happened when Tamerlanes (Timur the Lames) hordes stepped on Alans territory, mercilessly killing everybody on their way and burning villages of our ancestors. The Ossetian Alanian nation was about to be completely distinct. An old woman, called Nana, went to the surrounding villages to gather all the orphans. Then she secretly took them into the hard to reach mountains and hid them in the caves. She fed the kids with the wild fruits and herbs, anything she could get. The boys and girls grew up.  

 

Once, Nana and the kids got to Zadalesk, in the family of Tekkita. Children were welcome and some people suggested splitting the orphans into the families, but Nana did not agree for this. Then, the villagers built a house for her and her children and helped them with everything they could. 

As the time went by, kids grew up and got married. Nanas family grew and she herself was so much liked by all the villagers, that when she passed away, they pronounced her a saint and made a sanctuary out of her house. Since then, every year the holiday of Zadaleski Nana is celebrated in Zadalesk on the third Saturday of July. Three families are responsible for everything to go smoothly-give ram for kuvd, make beer and prepare arak. 

 

If girls were born in certain families, these families would make kusart in the sanctuary and would bring pies, arak and beer. The Elder would pronounce a prayer and would ask Nana to help the children avoid sicknesses and all troubles. 

Prayers are also pronounced for people who travel far for this holiday. The oldest woman of the family would pronounce a prayer over kuvinag to wish them a good trip and for them to come home safe and happy. 

This holiday is a womans holiday. All prayers are about happiness, well-being of the family and the happy future of the children. 

 

 

HUTSAUI DZUAR 

(Gods Saint) 

One of the most respected and loved saints by Ossetians. There is no village in the mountains where there would be no sanctuary in his honour. Some celebrate this holiday on the third or fourth Sunday of July, others-in October. It is especially celebrated by women. If there was a young bride or a newborn baby in the family, kusart would be made on this day. 

 

In the honour of Hutsau (God), the whole village would have kuvd and people would go to the sanctuary with their sacrificed oxen and other goods. There was dancing, horse races. The winner of the races would receive kadi nuazan (a goblet of Honour) - glass with beer. To receive this kind of award on this day was very prestigious. 

 

Up to this day, there are numerous sanctuaries for Hutsau. The most popular one is the one close to Vladikavkaz, as people from neighbouring villages come there. This day is a national holiday and is spent with fun: people dance and sing. 

For this holiday, big kuvds (celebrations) take place in Karman, Dargavs and other villages. It is usually celebrated in July. 

 

Hutsau - The Sole Great God, the creator of the Universe.  

 

 

ATINAG 

One of the most loved holidays. It is not forgotten nowadays, although it is not celebrated in such a grand style. 

Atinag acted as a certain line between Summer and Fall. After the holiday, people could start haymaking. Before this day, no one was allowed to do so, because everyone was afraid to anger God and Atinag, who could send long rain showers, or drought and all harvest could go bad and then the cattle would have nothing to eat. 

Of course, there were people that refused to follow that rule. If the weather turned bad after, each family had to give away two oxen for everyones needs. Few days before the official kuvd, older men started organizing everything and collected money to buy an animal to be sacrificed, as well as grain for the production of arak and beer.  

Kuvd was done on a Sunday. Young people would go around the village and gather people for the feast. Everyone would bring three pies, beer and arak to the sanctuary. 

Kuvd started with the prayer of the Elder and the celebration was full of laughter, singing and dancing. 

On Tuesday, people worked on haymaking, worked until dinner time and then continued their feast. 

If there was an old enough son in the family, he would be sent to work on the field a long with everyone else. It was very important, because he was symbolically entering adulthood. On this day, he felt what kind of responsibility is on his shoulders-responsibility for his family-and this responsibility he has to carry on along with all other adults. 

 

 

ALARDI. 

Before this holiday, people celebrate day of Rini* barduag (Protector from diseases and epidemics). People prayed to him so that he would not send any epidemics, or other scary diseases. 

Alardi taking care of smallpox, rubella and eye-related diseases is much stricter Saint. He was especially dangerous for children and women. Even when people prayed to him, they apologized for bother and were afraid of offending him. 

In many mountainous regions, certain portion of harvest was used for celebrations and kuvds in his honour. Pies were made from wheat that grows on the south. White lamb was killed as a sacrifice. Even nowadays, it is a popular Saint and everyone mentions his name in their prayers.  

This holiday may be celebrated in January-February, May, July, August or even September. 

 

*Rin - sickness or epidemics. 

 

 

MADI MAIRAM 

(Mother Maria) 

This is one of the most ancient Saints. Madi Mairam existed even during times of our ancestors-Alans. There are many sanctuaries in her honour in Ossetia. 

For this holiday, which usually falls on the last week of August, there would be a big kuvd in the village. Young women would go in the sanctuary. Women, who did not have kids, would ask Madi Mairam for her help to bear children. Young brides would also come to the sanctuary and would ask to be fertile and to bear seven sons and one daughter for their family. Newborn babies were also brought for this occasion. 

People pray to Madi Mairam even nowadays and ask for well-being, health and happiness of their children. 

 

 

FALVARA 

Two weeks after Alardi, Ossetians celebrate the holiday of Falvara. In the stories, Falvara is the protector of the livestock. It is the nicest saint that has never done anything bad or harmful. Once, while Tutir having a conversation with him, poked out his left eye to let wolves approach the cattle from the left side. 

In Ossetian understanding, Falvara is so kind, that when they describe a kind and honourable person, they say He is like Falvara. 

 

 

MIKALGABIRTA 

He is Saint of fertility. His sanctuaries are proofs of how ancient and popular this holiday is. Almost every household would kill a ram and conduct large and numerous feasts. The animal to be sacrificed for him was decided on since autumn. People would make three little cuts across his horn and would put a small wooden arc on his neck to distinguish him from the rest of the flock. 

This celebration lasted two weeks and in a lot of villages, it was celebrated three to four times a year. 

Person, who has done something sinful, went to pray for his sin to the sanctuary of Mikalgabirta. 

Many of the holidays of earlier times are forgotten, but Mikalgabirta is celebrated and prayed to up to this day. 

 

 

DZHEORGUIBA 

Ossetians respect all of their Saints, but the most special place is held by Uastirdzhi - protector of men, warriors, travellers, poor people, as well as young people. Ossetian always prays for Uastirdzhis support, no matter where he is. And, of course, the second toast at the table of any feast will be pronounced for the protector of men. 

 

Uastirdzhi comes from very far past, from our ancient ancestors. Uastirdzhi gave life to Shatana, a Nart Sags character, who embodies wisdom and beauty of the Ossetian woman.  

In peoples imagination, Uastirdzhi is tall, strong man on the white horse. Women are not allowed to pronounce his name, call him Lagti dzuar-The Protector of men. 

There is no ravine in Ossetia where one can not find a sanctuary in honour of Uastirdzhi. The most famous ones are Rekom, Hetags Grove, Nihas, Kob, Hurhor, Dzivgis, sanctuary of Digor Uastirdzhi and sanctuary Dzher in South Ossetia. 

The month of this holiday, was called Dzheorguibai mai-the month of Dzheorguiba. This holiday lasts a week and most often starts on November 19-21. It starts on Sunday, with the slaughtering of the ox. 

 

For this holiday, just like for all other big ones, such as Khetadzhi, Uastirdzhi, Uatsilla, etc., it is not allowed to put on the table pork, fish, chicken or anything that is made of these products. Pork is not allowed to be on the table at any celebration during the prayer to God - Sir Hutsau. 

 

As was stated before, the celebration lasts a week-from Monday to Monday. On Monday, every family says a prayer in their house. Then, neighbours start inviting each other. Celebratory kuvd welcomes everyone. On the closing Monday, the table is set and the head of the household says a prayer to Uastirdzhi, to ask for his help and protection, for health and happiness for the young ones and shows desire to celebrate this week next year even better. 

In the last few years, this holiday has become an official national Ossetian holiday. Every family makes a sacrifice and invites neighbours, family and friends. It has also become a tradition to have large kuvds in the villages and highrise neighbourhoods in the cities. 

 

 

TZIPPURS 

(Christmas)  

This was celebrated a week before New Year (in the old style). Our ancestors considered this day a celebration of spiritual cleansing. Thats why they followed lent, brought children to sanctuaries and did special celebrations for newborn males. 

After dawn, people would start fires. It was believed that the makers of the biggest and brightest fires, would be blessed with special happiness. Young people sang, danced and children jumped over little fires. Elders prayed: Let our troubles and grief disappear and burn in this fire. 

For this holiday, people were very generous and set tables filled with food, pies, beer and arak. Head of the household pronounced a prayer to God, Tsippurs and asked for health and happiness. 

The luckiest of the family walked around and gave food to all the livestock and the head of the household prayed to Falvara and Tutira to protect them from predators, such as wolves. 

With dusk, fires would be started again. Neighbours congratulated each other and no one was allowed to work on this day. 

Tsippurs - a holiday of the rebirth, new life and new hopes and is celebrated up to this day. 

 

 

 

Translated from Russian by Anastassia Grankina 

 

 

 



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Outstanding Ossetians