Siberian Germans - Religion and Expressive Culture



A large percentage of the German population belong to the Protestant church, many of them Lutherans and Evangelicals. There are also some Roman Catholics. The Mennonites see themselves as "a community of saints" that sings only religious songs; even their lullabies are religious. Mennonites observe only religious holidays, which are celebrated in homes and in the communities during prayer gatherings.

This mixed assemblage is directly related to the heterogeneous character of the German population. Today piety is part of the ordinary consciousness of the people. The characteristic isolation of representative religious assemblies has practically vanished. Now scarcely anyone pays attention to religious differences. For example, in the past, before a wedding, it was required that one of the partners in a mixed marriage change religion. But today even many pious Germans are less stringent about such matters.

Germans everywhere celebrate Christmas ( Weihnachten ) and Easter ( Ostern). In the past Siberian Germans celebrated Troitsa, the celebration of harvest on the day (June 25 in the West) of Ivan Kupaly (Saint John the Baptist). This was accompanied by outdoor public feasts during which people made bonfires and danced around them. Girls wove straw dolls and burned them. Even today folk celebrations and feasts are accompanied by dancing to accordion music, by the enactment of playful scenes, and by singing. Many of the songs come from parts of ancient German folk songs. The most popular are the vernacular romances, the comic couplets called Schwank, and colonial songs that appeared in the new homeland. This rich heritage is maintained by folk ensembles that perform in many of the German villages.


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