and water (vodianoi), they also appealed to favoured saints to heal, protect and ensure a bountiful harvest. Moving easily between these folk traditions and established Orthodox teachings and holy people, peasants acted rationally by working within the norms of their belief system to increase their odds for good fortune and abundance. Peasant religious customs resembled those of educated Russians who sought the advice of famous and not-so-famous spiritual elders, curried favours from nationally and locally important saints during pilgrimages and retained a fascination with the wondrous powers of the invisible world.12
In a very basic way Orthodox piety provided a rhythm to the prosaic western calendar that Peter imported into Russia, as well as meaning to the stages of human life. Every believer was expected to mark the year by a constant procession of annual holidays that divided the year into two main fast and feast periods associated with Christmas and Easter. Additionally, Wednesdays and Fridays were set aside for fasting and contemplation. Under the rubric of'little tradition' fell innumerable religious holidays observed in communities and by individuals that honoured parish churches, patron saints and wonder-working icons. The passage of human time was commemorated by three chief rituals that also registered major shifts in the life of communities. Baptism in the first few days following birth, as was customary in imperial Russia, recognised the addition of a new member of the community as well as the new responsibilities of both the parents and the baby once it reached maturity. Marriage called upon the discerning powers of parents and matchmakers to assure a match that would suit both families first, the community second and the individual last (although the concerns of the bride- and groom-to-be moved closer to the centre in the late nineteenth century). At all levels of society, youth was domi-natedby the importance offinding a good spouse.13 Forpeasants, this required a combination of divination, proper behaviour and matchmaking expertise. For the growing bourgeoisie, a good union could provide a step up the precarious
12 V Goretskii and V Vil'k, Russkii narodnyi lechebnyi travnik i tsvetnik, second edition (Moscow: Universitetskaia tip., 1903); F. Wigzell, Reading Russian fortunes: print culture, gender and divination in Russia from 1765 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
13 M. M. Gromyko, Traditsionnyenormypovedeniiaiformy obshcheniiarusskikhkrest'ianXlX v. (Moscow: Nauka, 1986), 161-226; T. A. Bernshtam, Molodezh' v obriadovoi zhizni russkoi obshchinyXlX-nachalaXXv.:polovozrastnoiaspekttraditsionnoikul'tury (Leningrad: Nauka, 1988); T. A. Bernshtam, Molodost' v simvolizme perekhodnykh obriadov vostochnykh slavian: uchenie i opyt Tserkvi v narodnom khristianstve (St Petersburg: Peterburgskoe Vostokove-denie, 2000); C. Worobec, Peasant Russia: family and community in the post-emancipation period (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991; reissued DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1995), chs. 4-5.
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