• Čeština


The deep conviction of a reality beyond human dimension which human existence depends on embodies the basic stone of religion for those believing. Due to this substance, the religion influences the consciousness and the behaviour of its bearer.  The influences as well as the influences-based consciousness and behaviour of a human fill the term “religiosity”.

The religiosity, which is present in the consciousness and behaviour of a believer, grows through his/her internal and external world. It is reflected in his/her world imagination and everyday activities. In a significant way, the religiosity determines his/her spiritual and social culture, and it also finds its expression in material culture.

The term “folk religiosity” is sometimes considered not to be very suitable as it refers to one social group, “the folk”. In this cases, terms such as “lived religion”, “religious experience”, “living expressions of faith”, and “living expressions of piousness” are usually preferred. These alternative terms uncover the content of folk religiosity.

Folk religiosity can be defined in several ways, e.g. from the perspective of its function for its bearers, based on its description and development, or through the enumeration of its expressions.  In connection with the basic theses of Identification, which are mentioned in the introduction to this document, we will try to depict folk religiosity through an inventory of its, currently living, expressions.

The complex of folk religiosity, as this is currently described in the Czech lands, allows us to recognize two sources of inspiration. The first one is the Christianity where folk religiosity develops within Christian terms and assumptions. In the other one, religiosity does not develop under unified terminology; what connects them is the conviction of a possibility of revealing and influencing the future, directly or indirectly. Both sources of inspiration, however, are so interwoven with each other in particular expressions of folk religiosity, that they cannot serve a function of its independent subsections.

2.1 Folk religiosity in connection with liturgical year calendar

2.1.1 Visits to a pilgrimage site (pilgrimages)

A faith-strengthening journey to a remote location of a cult, where a certain cult object is placed; the location is perceived by broad population as being exceptional and founded based on a supernatural intervention, i.e. miracle. Individuals´ pilgrimages (goal, dates, reason, way of transport, customs followed on journey, diet, period of time when the pilgrimage was carried out) Group pilgrimages (form of pilgrimage processions, see Pilgrimages with uninterrupted tradition. Pilgrimage sites canonized by the church and visited by pilgrims for a long period of time, and acknowledged by broad population as traditional locations (e.g. Frýdek- Místek, Hostýn, Velehrad). Goal, date, geographical impact of the location, historical document on the course of the pilgrimage, changes, course of pilgrimage in the pilgrimage site (arrival, participation in holy mass, procession round the location, places where pilgrims can prepare for their participation in the holy mass (changing rooms), accommodation, relax, diet, hygiene) Pilgrimages with renewed tradition Canonized pilgrimage sites, with long pilgrimage tradition, in which the tradition was interrupted for any reason, and recently rehabilitated (e.g. Králíky, Spálov, Dobrá Voda, and Libavá). New pilgrimages Pilgrimage sites, which are acknowledge by the church, with a short visitor tradition, founded during last decades (e.g. Turzovka) – differences from sites with long tradition, group of visitors, adaptation of the site, predominating pilgrimage form, transport Pilgrimage tourism Mass tourism of religious nature – travel agencies, goals, form, way of transport, group of clients/visitors, reason, actions on site Persons associated with the organization of pilgrimages Organizers of pilgrimages, processions in particular starting locations (parish offices, pilgrimage brothers) – activities – choice of young altar girls accompanying the pilgrimage, pilgrimage attributes (litter), organization of transport and places to relax, accompanying music band

2.1.2 Religious parades, processions

Processions with believers, usually under the leadership of priests, which take place in a village (e.g. Palm Sunday, Resurrection, Corpus Christi). Organizers, form, participants, appearance of attributes.

2.1.3 Non-religious parades

Habits of religious nature followed by believers within a village, without participation of official ecclesiastic representatives (Easter rides to the fields, walking with statue of the Virgin Mary in Advent). Tradition and present-day, date, form, organizers, participants, attributes.

2.1.4 Saints´ days 

Festive expressions related to saints´ calendarium (e.g. consecration of the village and church, patron saint to a certain occupation), date, organizers, goal group, and form of celebration

2.2 Folk religiosity and grouping

Due to the aim of our project, which is mentioned in basic theses on religiosity, our interest shall focus on associations founded with the aim of more intensive religious life (formal associations) and on groups of believers which try to apply more intensive religious life, without becoming official associations (informal associations). The activity of the latter groups is usually related to a particular location (within a settlement or a religious-administrative unit).

2.2.1. Formal associations

Organised associations of believers based on older traditions, or without them. Older impulses include tradition of Baroque religious fraternities; further associations develop directly based on ideas of civic associations (religious clubs, civic associations).

2.2.2. Informal associations

Informal groups of believers, who take an active part in social and religious actions organized be believers who are among one settlement or religious-administrative unit.

2.3 Folk religiosity in connection with expressions of material culture

2.3.1 Devotionalia

A wide spectrum of personal, interior and exterior objects used to express one´s personal piousness (e.g. holy water fonts, prayer books), which are supposed to strengthen believer´s faith, including pilgrimage souvenirs – comparison of traditional production with the current one, customers, producers, way of distribution.

2.3.2 Votive offerings

A specific genre of devotionalia – gifts given to the subject of honour in personal or group crisis with a request for intercession, as well as a thanksgiving for help; gifts given as a demonstration of repentance (repentant gifts) – comparison of traditional document with the present-day, form (including the Internet), material, reason, donator, placing in the place of honour (altar, ambits, hole district)

2.3.3 Nativity Scenes

A specific expression of personal piousness, which shows the scene of Christi´s birth in diverse modifications – producers, amateur works, form, material, models, ways of presentation Professional organization (Association of Nativity Scene Makers) – form and content of meetings, exhibition arrangement

2.3.4 Trading with devotionalia including pilgrimage production

Form of trading – common shops (last surviving bearers of the tradition of “stall-keepers”, e.g. Sv. Kopeček), occasional stand sale, sphere of activity, assortment).

2.3.5 Unofficial sites of cult

Sites not cared of by official ecclesiastic bodies, but by private persons within a cadastral area (e.g. crosses, pictures). Who, reason, frequency, modification.

2.4   Folklore structures in connection with participation in a pilgrimage, procession, door-to-door procession

2.4.1 Song

2.4.2 Music

Specific musical expressions in connection with the participation in a pilgrimage, procession – repertoire, interpreter, tradition, innovation

2.4.3 Memory narrative

Verbal expression in connection with the participation in a pilgrimage, procession – interpreter, content

2.4.4 Commemorative books

Books placed in a pilgrimage district and capturing a pilgrim´s visit – author of the record, form, content.

2.5 Superstitious expressions

This distorted traditional term full of negative connotations includes various expressions which are based on the conviction of a possibility of revealing and influencing the future, including healing procedures, and which result from the conviction of the existence of immaterial entities, ghosts. The principles serve as basis for many phenomena, especially at individual level. Our interest will be aimed at more significant phenomena which represent the above convictions.

2.5.1. Female fortune-tellers, cartomancers

Within the widespread conviction of a possibility of revealing the future, represented by a plethora of meanings and acts among broad population, we will focus on (female) specialists who deal with this activity and who their visiting clients consider to be endowed to operate this activity.

2.5.2. Spiritualism, spiritism

The belief in afterlife is a basis for the belief in earthly presence of dead people´s ghosts. This belief results in the struggle to communicate with them. The endeavour to contact the ghosts are going on through “mediums” at mass meeting (séances). Attention will be paid to regular, mass and organized séances, or groups of those participating in them.

2.5.3. Folk healers

A person with commonly acknowledger abilities to heal and diagnose using procedures which are unique and whose success is conditioned upon the healer and his/her talent. Our attention will be paid only to healers who can be considered to be acknowledged by those involved, which should be confirmed by the existence of broad clientele of a corresponding healer.

2.5.4. Goddesses

A traditional institution of healing women, related to a concrete location, who used procedure of traditional rural medicine in addition to healer´s procedure.

The predominance of phenomena of group nature cannot be understood in our enumeration as if the folk religiosity did not influence persons at an individual level. Rather to the contrary. The group religiosity stems from the individual religiosity. The quantity of occurrence and forms of individual folk religiosity, which is more bound to spiritual sphere of a human, does not allow us to describe it using similar categories as in the case of group folk religiosity that is more related to ritualized and public behaviour.

Literature: Foret, M.: Religiozita [Religiosity]. In: Petrusek, Miloslav (red.): Velký sociologický slovník. II. Praha 1996, pp. 921-922. * Hora, L.: Náboženství [Religion]. In: Petrusek, Miloslav (red.): Velký sociologický slovník. I. Praha 1996, pp. 659-661. * Beitl, K.: Volksglaube. Mnichov 1981. * Gockerel, N.: Bilder und Zeichen der Frommigkeit. Mnichov 1995. * Procházka, K.: Český lid z hlediska prostonárodně náboženského[The Czech Folk from the National Religious Perspective]. Praha 1910