Winter/Spring AS XLVII (2013)
Volume XVIII, Issue 2 (#68)

From the Nachalnik

We had to skip the regular Winter issue of Slovo this year because of lack of material. In sharp contrast, we have a robust issue this time (and even some extra material to be published in future issues). I'd much rather have this sort of problem and I thank the contributors for making it happen.

The Slavic Interest Group met up at Gulf Wars this year (see a brief synopsis below) and is planning a Pennsic gathering (also discussed below). In addition, there is a discussion in progress about having another Slavic University. Tentatively, it would be held on October 26, 2013 in Williamsport PA. More details hopefully to follow in future issues of Slovo.


Pennsic Gathering

By Sfandra Dmitrieva

Again, the SIG meeting will be at the Haus Von Drakenklaue (VDK) camp in B-05 during War Week (although I am not sure which night yet).  There will be food, but feel free to bring food/drink to share, as well as projects, books, and so on.


Gulf Wars SIG Gathering

By Sofya la Rus

This year we met in the lecture tent on Artisan's Row over the lunch hour on Wednesday. We had the biggest group yet this year – ten people! We broke bread together and ate “Fabergé eggs” (candy Easter eggs), candied almonds, and other snacks. A couple of people brought books to share. Others brought works-in-progress to get input. And it was great to catch up with “Gulf Wars friends” and “on-line friends.” As usual, we weren't quite ready when the next class came in and our gathering shifted to a nearby tent for a few more minutes.


The Easter Basket and Pascal Food

By Vasyl Jula

Have you ever stopped to wonder how the Easter basket and Pascal foods came about? Why some people bless a big basket of food and others have a smaller one, why some bless certain foods and others something else? This may answer some of the questions. In this article the term Easter basket is to mean all the food, decorations, cloth cover, including the basket itself. This is geared with a Ukrainian perspective.

Spring has always been a time of rebirth and renewed blessings of the fertile earth. In ancient Europe, the vernal or spring equinox was a significant time of year to the Indo-Aryan peoples, ancestors of the ethnic and linguistic groups of Europe, of which the Slavs are one. The culture of ancient Rus' reflected their deep spirituality and intimacy with the earth through their folk rites and customs associated with the celebration of what we now call Paskha /Easter. Our Rus' ancestors believed that spring with its warming properties could be invoked with rituals, singing, dancing and music. Thus by imitating the movement of the sun in dance, the return of the birds in images made out of bread dough and hung in trees, and the growth of flora depicted on pysanky (decorated eggs), one could hasten its arrival. In antiquity the spring songs and dances “Vesnyanky” were performed at the “meeting” of winter and summer called “Strytennia”. In pre Christian times there were only two seasons with two undefined interim periods; what we call spring and autumn. During this time our ancestors took specially baked breads held in the hands with a ritual cloth called a rushnyk (ritual cloth) to sacred groves to be kissed by the first rays of the pagan sun god Dazhboh as he awoke the morning of the equinox. These breads are what we now call paskha ( paska ) and babka. The creation of pysanky and krashanky (decorated and colored eggs) was another ritual to invoke spring. The pysanka was considered a symbol of new life and with its symbolic ideograms became amulets of protection. A festive meal was eaten in celebration of this great day, “Velykden” on the return and dominance of the sun.

The blessing of the Pascal foods started about 500 years or so ago and was the result of the confluence of pre-Christian traditions and a Counter Reformation act by the Eastern Church against the heretical sect called the Bogomils. The Bogomils took a strong stand against the sins of the flesh, anything physical, which included eating meat. Zealous missionaries carried this doctrine far and wide. In 1004, scarcely sixteen years after the introduction of Christianity into Kyiv Rus', a priest called Adrian was teaching the same doctrine as the Bogomils and Leonitius, Bishop of Kyiv, imprisoned him. So to counteract this heretical belief the Church started to bless meat, which then had to be eaten. This act became associated with Easter.

Gradually the foods from the pre-Christian spring celebration crept into the blessing at Easter time and the Church begrudgingly accepted them. A curious observation is that until fairly recently the Easter basket was always blessed outside on the lawn of the church and not taken inside. Was it that the church never truly accepted these pagan foods or the remnant practice of consecrating the food in a more natural setting as in pre-Christian times? Nevertheless the custom of blessing and eating these Pascal foods was set. Over the centuries the Bible influenced the types of foods that were to be blessed by taking references from the historic Passover and the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament. Jesus himself told his disciples “Go and make preparation for us to eat the ‘Passover Meal'” likewise we do the same.

Theologically Easter was and is the holiest day in the Christian church and in the lives of the Slavs. On this day no work of any kind for any reason was permitted and this rule was strictly adhered to for it was considered a grievous sin to work on this day. All the foods to be consumed on Paskha (Easter), breaking the Great Fast, were prepared ahead of time and served cold, so one could show proper respect to this most holy and important day.

The suggested meats to be blessed in modern times are kowbasa , ham, veal, pork, lamb, beef, and/or bacon. In the past no fish or fowl was eaten in Galicia and parts of Halychyna (western Ukraine), but in the northern and eastern parts of Ukraine they prepared fish and poultry. Maybe one reason for this abstention according to a Lemko folk belief was that a chicken scratched up the nails that crucified Christ. Traditionally a horseradish root is put into the basket and blessed. At home it is grated over a blessed peeled krashanka (solid color hard boiled eggs) to be shared and consumed first by the family. A personal family belief that I uphold is not to bless grated horseradish with vinegar in it. The reason is scriptural: while Christ was on the cross he was offered vinegar on a sponge to drink and He refused it. I use the horseradish / beet relish at home as a condiment. A Lemko folk custom that I do is to put in the basket what is called “Velykodniy Mast” Easter Salve, made from the combined rendered fat drippings of the cooked meats, clarified and congealed to be used as a folk remedy on various ailments. Other foods such as studenyna/kholodets (meat in aspic); headcheese (a type of sausage), kishka (blood sausage), roasted piglet, potato salad, and various desserts can be made and eaten at home and not necessarily blessed. Cheeses in various forms are blessed along with butter, salt and wine. In Ukraine a curious adopted cheese dish from Russia is syrna (cheese) paskha , which represents the soul of Christ. The peoples of ancient Rus' ate a very simple dish of cottage cheese drizzled with honey during the Strytennia celebration. This was the forerunner of Syrna Paskha. It only took its present form due to the French chefs of the Imperial Russian court who transformed it by adding sugar, vanilla, cream and various other ingredients. It was put into a tetrahedron shaped mold fashioned after the Egyptian pyramids. The pyramid was a tomb for a king and built for resurrection; the unmolded shape of the Syrna Paskha represents the tomb of Christ. The ubiquitous pysanky in the past were placed in the basket as talismans of good fortune and protection. Currently they are used for purely decorative purposes. Another Lemko custom is to put money (coins) on the various foods to insure prosperity in the coming year. Honey is placed in the basket to be blessed and used on Christmas Eve and as a homeopathic treatment. The name for the blessed food in Ukrainian is called Svyatchene “that which is blessed” and in the Lemko tongues Shwatchenyna.

As for decoration, the basket handle sometimes would be embellished with a colored ribbon and the interior with flowers, periwinkle, parsley, and radishes made into flowers. A beeswax candle was situated among the food and lit during the blessing service.

In the old days a very large basket was needed to handle all the food that had to be blessed for consumption during bright week, the week after Easter. This all changed for the Slavs in Europe with the onslaught of WW I, and the volatile changes of the political atmosphere. Europe was in shambles and products that were needed to be blessed were hard to find. This turmoil lasted through the interim war period, through WW II and beyond. So in many cases downsizing of the basket was in order. Because of this and over time some of the old traditions were forgotten. New generations grew up with this reformed Easter basket and for them it has become the norm. In the past very large paskhy (pasky) with a diameter of 25 inches or more were baked. The paskha (paska) symbolizing Christ's body was wrapped in a separate plain white linen cloth called a Khleebovnytsia from the word khleeb meaning bread. This cloth symbolized Christ's burial shroud and was carried to church separately. This Kleebovnytsia served as a ritual cloth in its own rite. Due to the extenuating circumstances the paskha (paska) was made smaller and placed unwrapped into the basket to take up space of the missing produce. And more recently an even smaller basket was used in Soviet times so if any Communist authorities stopped the faithful going to get it blessed can say they were just going on a picnic and avoid imprisonment. So even world events shaped the size and contents of the Paschal basket.

Originally the “Basket Cover” served no integral part of what has become commonplace in today's Easter folk ritual. In the distant past, a plain white linen cloth was placed over the food to keep dirt and debris off it. Over time embroidery was added and this cloth became an object of importance due to the underlying vanity of showing off one's creativity to the public, hence the ornamentation. Today the basket covers vary with each individual household from the simple to the complexly ornamented. Sometime in the early 20 th century a modern phenomenon was starting in North America, the innocent embellishing of the Easter basket cover. Little by little small additions were being added until exorbitant ornamentation was being placed on the basket cover, such as elaborate borders, the risen Christ, pysanky, crosses, angels, pussy willow, flowers, lambs, etc. and the proclamation of the Easter Tropar in English or Cyrillic. And it hasn't stopped. Even today basket covers coming out of Ukraine are depicting additional pictograms i.e., churches, Paskha, Babka, a basket of krashanky, cute Easter bunnies, baby chicks, and all sorts of misused Christian and modern Easter mercantile representation; to the point of ridiculousness. Hopefully today the craftsmanship is the desire to proclaim the importance of the resurrection through creativity. Unfortunately I don't think so, money smells too good. Actually there are no written rules, regulations or guidelines except through oral tradition on how a basket cover is to be ornamented and this is left up to the individual. Whatever the case, the one act that seems to be common to all the descendants of the tribes of Rus' is the customary blessing of the Pascal food that will break the Great Fast and declare Christ has risen: “KHRYSTOS VOSKRES!”


A New Laurel in Lochac!

by ffride wlffsdotter (Ásfríðr Úlfvíðardóttir)

At Lochac's 12th night, A.S. XLVII (January 2013), I was asked to join the Order of the Laurel, primarily for research which included the Viking Age, and a lot of interest in the territory covered by the modern-day Baltic states. When I was asked, I had about 2 months to plan what I wanted, who was going to say what, and what on earth I would wear. I found reading what other people had done in Slovo to be extremely useful, so I thought I should share my notes here, too.

As both the new King and Queen of Lochac, Eva and Felix, were German Ostsiedlung settlers in Gdansk, I thought we could create an interesting ceremony based around the Ordinances of the Court of King Arthur ( Artushofordnung ) of Gdansk. (For more information about the Artushof see Slovo volume XV, issue 1, number 55.)

It stood to reason that, as German-speaking nobility, they would have been familiar with the court, its practices, its strict moral code, as well as how it frequently received visitors from foreign lands (Schlauch, 1959; Graf and Gelderblom, 2009). The lack of detailed information available about how seriously the Court took its pseudo-Arthurian guise also is a nice way to explain the anachronistic and romantic elements of a typical SCAdian court as well; we were simply doing and wearing what we thought to be appropriate for a 'serious' ceremony. In short, it was the perfect excuse for me to have a ceremony that could incorporate the interests of both myself and Their Highnesses, that would give an opportunity for having a different ceremony, without the Court falling asleep out of boredom!

The only major alteration to the “standard” West kingdom-derived ceremony was the introduction. Mistress Margie of Glen More helped with crafting the following introduction, based on the 14th century Artushofordnung :

Mistress Margie requested (to paraphrase, as lines changed on the night), that as per “the custom of the Artushof of Danzig, we, the Laurels of Lochac, wish for a worthy guest to be admitted into Your Court [1], and into the Order of the Laurel.”

The qualities that roughly corresponded with the desirable traits of a SCAdian peer, and a guest of the Artushof were then explained as:

This good gentle shall enter the court as our guest [1] they shall offend no-one, and to this the Laurels stand guarantor as required by the Court of Danzig [2]. If this guest did cause offence, may the Laurels be fined six barrels of beer as is customary [2,4]. The guest comes unarmed [3], would provide assistance to those in need [5], and importantly, they have not been joined in marriage with a woman, nor a man, of ill-repute [6].

Mistress Margie also stressed that their guest was not a seller of ales or beers [7], something the Artushofordnung seemed rather preoccupied with.

At which point I was whisked into court, and a more SCA-standard peerage ceremony commenced.

After a few months of reflection, I am very pleased with the Baltic flavor I gave my ceremony, and I think I achieved my goal of an occasion that was different enough to be interesting, but not so unusual as to be incomprehensible. My only important pieces of advice that I should pass on, should you ever find yourself in this situation, and you have enough notice, is to delegate as much as you can so you only need to worry about a small number of things, and to visit the bathroom beforehand!



From the Ordinances of the Court of King Arthur, ca. 1390. (Simson, 1900)

[1] “Und niemandt soll Gaeste bitten auf den Hoff, er wiste den das er des Hoffes wurdig sey.” [And no one shall invite guests to the court unless he knows that they are worthy of the court.]

[2] “Auch sollen die Gaeste also sein, das Niemand einige unlust von ihm habe, das der wirt des gastes nicht entgelte, bey einen halben Last biersz.” [Also the guest should be such, that no-one has an aversion/offence/dislike to them, and if they do, the host of the guest shall pay a fine of a half-last of beer.]

[3] “Und Niemandt soll ungewohnlich waffen oder Wehren einer kegen denn andern tragen in dem Hoffe, [4] er sey buerger oder Gast bei einer halben Last birs.” [And no-one should carry extraordinary weapons or fight with the others in the court, or their host (burgess) or the guest shall pay a fine of a half-last of beer.]

[5] “Auch sei der Hoff verboten allen denen, die einem Manne nicht muegen (mögen) helffen zu seinem Rechte, [6] und denem, die ein offenbahr beruechtiget Weib nehmen.” [And the court is forbidden to all those, who would not want to help a man to his rights, and those who take an evidently/obviously notorious wife.]

[7] “Auch soll Niemandt auf den Hoff gehen... der da Bier schenckett oder bey Pfenge verkaufft.” [Also no-one should go to the court if...they sell beer to tavern(s).]



•  Graf, Regina and Gelderblom, Oscar. April 13. 2009. The Rise, Persistence and Decline of Merchant Guilds: Re-thinking the Comparative Study of Commercial Institutions in Pre-modern Europe Economic History Workshop Yale University. Online:

•  Schlauch, M. 1959. King Arthur in the Baltic Towns. Bulletin Bibliographique de la Société Internationale Arthurienne 11: 75-80

•  Simson, Paul. 1900. Der Artushof in Danzig und seine Brüderschaften, die Banken. (Danzig: T. Bertling) Available online at


Children's Russian Garb for all Seasons (aka, You want me to wear what? It's too hot!)

By Anastasiia Rusa Iureva vnuchka, a Vladislava zhena

My daughter went to her first event at 6 weeks old (yes we are die hard Scadians!). It was in the spring. I made her a red linen rubakha and a fur brimmed hat. I even fingerlooped trim for her rubakha . Some people claimed I was being insane, and I thought I needed to take a break from staring at her 24/7. So that took my attention away for just a couple of hours.

Her next event was in June. She was three months old and we were camping for four days. I made two new outfits for her. I made one dress out of the leftover fabric to match my husband's Moldavian style kaftan, and one to match my dress. Fabric trim, fingerloop trim to trim the fabric trim, and beads for the fabric trim…yes, beads. Now at this age I could have wrapped her in swaddling clothes. But why? I had enough fabric left over from my outfits to make hers, and nothing is cuter than a fancily-dressed child. Well at least in my opinion.

The next garb change was Labor Day weekend. That year, by the time Labor Day weekend arrived it was really cold at night and in the mornings, but very warm during the day. New baby garb! So I made yet another light outfit and this time I made her a cloak. I decided to make it bigger than necessary. She wasn't walking yet so I made it longer than her legs so it was like a blanket. Perfect! By the time she was able to walk it barely reached the ground . My daughter will be three in two months and I am just now putting her cloak to rest. She has graduated to shuba status.

Now we all know that during the winter months Russian garb is ideal. It's layered, there's wool, and they even had coats with sleeves! But what happens when winter turns to spring then to summer? Not only is their garb too hot, it's too small already. Garb gets really expensive when you have to make a new outfit every six months and in many cases even earlier.


#1 Go for the hanky weight material

Hanky/light weight linen is about 3.5 oz. Some transparency is possible. Hold your hand under fabric to see how transparent it is. If ordering fabric on line you can order swatches at most online retailers.


#2 Make it one layer

With boys this is easy: trousers and a men's length rubakha .

For Girls make it ONE dress. For instance make her naverschnik about half calf length and slightly longer than elbow length for the sleeves, there is a reason for this that I will explain later. Then add the rubakha . Now instead of making a whole new dress, add a faux rubakha at the sleeve and hem.


#3 Add extra fabric in the seams

To make garb they can grow into takes a little planning ahead. It's all about making it oversized but hiding it so it doesn't look oversized. Hide extra fabric in seams and hems. My daughter grows faster up than out, so I add more in the hems than I do in the seams.

Earlier I mentioned making the naverschnik a little longer in the sleeves and in length. This is so you don't have to adjust both dresses. If adding length you can just adjust the rubakha . There are two places you can hide extra fabric in the rubakha for added length. It's a matter of personal preference. I add mine at the top where it attaches to the naverschnik . I have to detach the piece of fabric to make it longer; however, the trim/embroidery at the bottom stays at the same place on the dress. If it doesn't bother you that the trim/embroidery location rises up the dress further from the hem, then add the extra at the hem. This way you don't have to detach the rubakha from the naverschnik .


#4 During cold weather, layer!

I don't mean it has to be garb. Children grow too fast to make that a priority. However, if you have the time and the means go ahead and follow #3 and make an additional heavy weight rubakha . For girls it can be worn under the other dress. For boys make heavier weight pants just for the cold months also following #3. I wouldn't worry about the shirt as long as they have on a cloak or a shuba .


#5 Oops, I need it for one more event and there's no more fabric in the seams!

There are several ways to cheat extra fabric on male and female rubakha s. If you have more of the same fabric add it toward the bottom and cover the seam with trim, fingerloop braid, or lucet braid. If you don't have any more of the same fabric cutting the bottom of the dress off an inch or two from the hem and adding a wide piece of trim to join the two back together will also work in a pinch. For the girl's rubakha , you may add an additional faux rubakha to the bottom of the original one. Two rubakha s were common. These tips can also work for sleeves. Sometimes the fit through the chest can be fixed just by adding a larger gusset.

For pants, if the rubakha is long enough add an extra piece at the waistline where it will not be seen.


#6 A Cloak for all seasons

If you chose to make a shuba the best advice I have is to follow the tips above.

Cloaks are more flexible. Make a cloak out of lightweight wool or medium weight linen with a lightweight liner. During cold months, sandwich a heavier wool layer between the outer layer and inner liner. A running stitch will hold it in place. This is removable again when the weather warms up.

Czech Archeology

by ffride wlffsdotter (Ásfríðr Úlfvíðardóttir)

[Editor's Note: At press, these links appeared to be dead, but the resources still seemed valuable, even if they are not readily available at their original location.]

Archaeologia historica has put some of its volumes online in PDF format at As you can see, it is the entire volume, not split up into individual articles but here are some of the highlights I found:


Archaeologia historica 36(2) 2011

Milena Bravermanová: "Fragment of a Funeral Dress and a Kruseler Veil from the Casket of Czech Queens in the Royal Tomb, St. Vitus Cathedral" / "Fragment pohrebních šatu a závoj, tzv. kruseler, z rakve ceských královen z královské hrobky v katedrále sv. Víta" pages 281-312. Discusses a kruseler veil, another scarf, and a sleeveless surcote -looking garment that was believed to have had a separate, gathered skirt!

Archaeologia historica 35 (1-2) 2010 [link dead]

Milena Bravermanová: "Funeral Attire of a Czech Queen from the Royal Tomb in St. Vitus Cathedral" / "Pohrební šaty jedné z ceských královen z královské hrobky v katedrále sv. Víta" pages 202-222. Discusses a possible sleeveless surcote (it's unclear if there were originally sleeves or not), and a pillow.

František Gabriel-Lucie Kracíková: "On the Function of Small Ceramic Sculptures"/"K funkci drobné keramické plastiky" pages 225-232. Lots of images of ceramic 'dolls' or figurines, naturally enough wearing interesting clothes.

Zdenek Merínský-Rudolf Procházka: "Some Aspects of Everyday and Festive Life of the Mediaeval Man in Moravia and Silesia" /"K nekterým aspektum každodenního a svátecního života stredovekého cloveka na Morave a ve Slezsku" pages 7-44

Tomáš Durdík: "Some Notes on Everyday Life in Czech Castles" / "Nekolik poznámek k ceské hradní každodennosti" pages 45-62 Puzzle jugs, what looks like a nutcracker, gaming pieces and other interesting things

Markéta Tymonová: "Archaeological Evidence of the Everyday Life of the Inhabitants of Cvilín Castle in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age" / "Archeologické doklady každodenního života obyvatel hradu Cvilína v období stredoveku a raného novoveku" pages 63-79

Zdenka Mechurová: "The World of Mediaeval Children and Games in Archaeological Sources" / "Stredoveký svet detí a her v archeologických pramenech" pages 95-107. Amongst other things, there are plenty of images of whirligigs, rattles and ceramics.

Petr Žákovský: "Fresco with a Motif of Wrestlers from Švihov Castle in the Context of the Development of European Combat Systems"/ "Freska s motivem zápasníku z hradu Švihova v kontextu vývoje evropských bojových systému" pages 310-332 Covers Fechbücher, sculpture, frescoes, manuscript images, and looks really interesting! No idea if any of this would be useful in SCA or HEMA combat though.

Cenek Pavlík: "Dragons on Gothic and Renaissance Tiles, or the Magic World of the Imagination" / "Draci na kachlích gotiky a renesance aneb kouzelný svet fantazie" pages 273-301


Sofya's Site Has Moved!

Greetings and a bow from Sofya la Rus!

I've shifted my SCA articles to a new web host with a simpler and more sensible name: . The Russian stuff is at . The old URLs will still work, but I won't be updating the articles at the old site apart from adding "re-direct" messages once I get FTP access again. (Hence the change to a new web host.)

I've drastically changed the appearance of the pages, although the content is essentially the same. Please let me know if you find broken links or images that I missed in the 3-day-long transition.



Some items picked up on SIG-L (our Yahoo!Group):


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The original authors retain the rights to their works. Please contact them directly for permission to reprint. Uncredited material is the property of the publisher.

The publisher and editor is Paul Wickenden of Thanet (Paul Goldschmidt), 5625 Highland Way, Middleton WI 53562, 608-827-6891, e-mail: There is no subscription fee and copies of this quarterly newsletter are available free of charge from the editor. Slovo is also available on-line at the Interest Group web site (