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The article focuses on handwritten prayer books, which represent a significant phenomenon in the context of religious reading in 1750 – 1850. The research is based on studies of twenty manuscripts of Czech and Moravian origin stored in museums and libraries. Attention is paid to a detailed analysis and a reciprocal comparison of handwritten Catholic and Protestant prayer books. It follows their physical form and examines the illustrations. It emphasises the content structure of books including the use of Biblical quotes. It introduces the way of creating texts and the relationship of manuscripts to their printed templates. It puts the topic in a socio-historical context. It also notes different roles of the handwritten prayer book in everyday life of the faithful of two confessions, as well as the indisputable importance in the Baroque folk piety.
The aim of the paper is to present Saint Catharine of Alexandria and Saint Andrew in the context of country-folk religiosity and traditions. Memorials of these two Saints in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church fall at the end of liturgical year and the beginning of Advent. The Feasts of these two Saints also became the focal point of pre-Christian folk customs and beliefs pertaining mostly to matrimonial fortune-telling along with some magical accents. The vigil of the Feast of Saint Andrew was devoted to matrimonial predictions of young girls, whereas, the vigil of Saint Catharine's Feast Day was related to the same for young men. The author used ethnographic data gathered during field work conducted in the Opoczno region in the years 1990-1993, and in the Opoczno and Radom regions of Poland in the years 1995-2005. The first section contains a short biography of Saint Catharine, further broadened by description of her role in county-folk customs and traditions. In the second section, Saint Andrew was introduced in similar manner. The Feasts of these two Saints are interwoven with a wealth of folk beliefs in supernatural beings both good and malicious, which are believed to dwell on earth and affect human life. Under the influence of Christianity these two Saints have been drawn into the circle of folk beliefs, with some reference to pre-Christian cults. In present day Polish folk culture not much is left of those old beliefs and customs, and Saint Catharine and Saint Andrew are merely perceived as Patron Saints of pre-marital chastity and specific professions. The example set by these and other Saints is relevant to the lives of the contemporary faithful thought, since it shows how one can boldly follow Christ and preach the Gospel.
In Bulgaria, the word 'kurban' denotes bloody sacrifice brought to God, saints or mythical protectors of family group or the whole village. It represents a specific feature of spiritual culture that runs across the whole structure of traditional as well as contemporary folk customs in Bulgaria. The sacrifice of animal constitutes part of family, annual and work customs and church ceremonies. The article renders basic information on the roots and context of this custom and characterizes its traditional form. It focuses on the preparation of 'kurban' as ritual dish and the attitudes of the Orthodox Church to this custom. It traces the persistence of the custom in contemporary Bulgarian society, where the broad traditional family relations are being lost. The article is based on field research realized in the years 2005 and 2007 as well as the study of literature.
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