Friday, 24 December 2010

Towels on Parade

Often in museums we come across special embroidered items called Parade Towels. Many people are not sure what these are and what their use may be, possibly because in the UK we don't have a tradition of parade towels. Here, on this festive card (I hope you are getting excited about Father Christmas coming, by the way) you can see exactly what its purpose was - to bear gifts, usually bread and salt, when meeting special guests. Now don't stay up too late and remember, no peeking until morning...
(Perhaps a Russian speaking reader will translate this card for us, please?)


  1. The inscription says "Happy New Year!" Not only are bread and salt the traditional greeting for guests, but a word formed from those two words translates as "hospitality." Russian Orthodox Christians celebrate Epiphany, not December 25, and most of the traditions the West associates with Christmas, especially the decorated tree and gifts, have been associated with New Year's, at least since Soviet times. Father Frost is their St. Nick/Santa Claus.

  2. The inscription on the card: Happy New Year!
    This card was released a year of flight of the first cosmonaut.

  3. "Happy new year!" is written on the card.
    Father Frost ( Russian Santa) is welcoming a cosmonaut. The card I suppose is an old one, perhaps it belongs to the period when cosmos theme was of high popularity.

  4. Thank you so much for your translations and giving us so much more insight into your traditions and this little card. Happy holidays to you all.

  5. That kind of "Parade Towel" is familiar to me. My bloodline comes from Carelia and it is called "Käspaikka" you could translate it traigt Handplace or maybe even Place for hands :)
    When Carelian lady was going to be wife, she sould have about 20-30 Käspaikka's done to show her talent...

  6. Dear Jacqueline!

    I second all the previous authors. Just want to add, that Grandfather Frost (who, unlike Santa, is pagan) is greeting the little boy - the New Year himself.
    The Russian word for parade towel is "rushnik". Besides bearing gifts they are widely used in modern days for church rituals, like wedding. After wedding "rushnik" is proudly displayed along with the "wedding icon".
    Stitching on each towel reflects the specific use - greeting guests, wedding, Easter, etc.
    Here is Goodle image search for Russian word [url=]"rushnik"[/url]
    By the way, you can find lots of free patterns for "rushnik" in Ramsy's blog