Red Weddings in Bashkiria: the Experiments of Soviet Power
The author analyses the introduction of the Soviet civil ceremony of “Red” weddings in postwar Bashkiria in order to eliminate religious beliefs, ethnic customs, and territorial differences by means of uniting youth for the purpose of solving existing social problems. The author refers to Bashkir periodicals of the 1920s, field materials, funds of the national archive of the Republic of Bashkortostan, and publications on the ethnography of the peoples of the republic. Red weddings in Bashkiria were first mentioned on 2 October 1923. In 1924, they were organised in towns, canton centres, and factory settlements among Komsomol members, non-party people, and clerks. In rural areas, attempts to impose new rituals on the public failed. As was explained by Bashkir newspapers, Komsomol leaders in the countryside were economically dependent on their parents and had to agree to their conditions. Additionally, this failure to introduce new practices was explained by the fact that it proved impossible to “develop” and “bring up” one of the spouses, usually a non-Komsomol member. According to field and archival materials, rural areas continued observing their old traditions in the 1920s, keeping patriarchal customs, and conservative worldview. This was particularly true about the Bashkir Trans-Urals, which still preserved a nomadic lifestyle, polygamy, and bride price. In Priuralye Bashkir settlements, there were rare cases of so-called demonstration Red weddings. Overall, the author finds data about Red wedding practices among Russians, Bashkirs, Tatars, Ukrainians, Chuvash, and Estonians. By the late 1920s, Red weddings had stopped as they were discredited in the public’s opinion and there had been a change in the political course of the country.
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