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BABINDEN (OLD MIDWIVES' DAY)

BABINDEN (OLD MIDWIVES' DAY)

1/8/2022 9:00:00 AM

The legend has it that the Egyptian king ordered the old women, who were maternity nurses, to kill all newborn Jewish boys. The old women did not submit to that order because they were afraid of God. That was why He gifted them with good and welfare.

Old Midwives’ Day is a feast dedicated to the old midwives, the young women giving birth to babies and to the health of those babies. The feast comprises three main rite elements: the first is the bathing of the small children (usually done by the old woman and followed by numerous blessings), the second one is the symbolic spreading of honey and butter over the children, and third one is the feast at the house of the old midwife. This is all done with the wish for health.

Àll young women, who have been visited by the old midwife during the past year, participate in the holiday. They bring bread, cheese pastry, roasted chicken and wine with them. They help the old lady wash her hands and give her a shirt, apron, head-cloth and socks as gifts. The holiday ends up with a ritual called “vlechugane” or bathing of the old lady. The housewives take the old midwife to the river or the well and perform the ceremonial bathing. All of them are abundantly decked with red peppers and wool. They sing songs with erotic motives and dance. No men are allowed to join that feast. On their way to the well or river the women tease the men they meet. Thenthey bathe the old lady and carry her back to her home.

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