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Ovinnik

by John McCannon
East Slavic spirit of the threshing house (ovin). Russian and Ukrainian threshing houses tended to be two-story buildings, heated by a furnace; containing highly flammable grain, they were horribly vulnerable to outbreaks of fire. Consequently, Eastern Slavs considered the ovinnik to be the most malevolent of their household spirits. To contain the threat of fire, a threshing house was built as far as possible from the main dwelling, so the ovinnik was also kept well away from the household. To persuade him not to start fires, peasants periodically offered the ovinnik roosters and bliny. Like other Slavic household spirits, the ovinnik could divine the future. On New Year's Eve, peasants would allow him to touch them in the dark; a warm touch indicated good fortune, a cold touch meant unhappiness in the coming year.

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