110 THE BELIEFS AND RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES
" Ryasapan Sophia ! White as a peeled lime Sophia's body is, Round as a tuft of flax Her stocking-legs appear,' Oh I like a nimble foal's Her movements seem to be."
Mordvin women are particularly proud of their legs, and therefore wear short shirts and petticoats. The beauty of the legs consists in their thickness and their firm gait. The women therefore bind several ells of fine well-bleached linen as smoothly as possible round their legs. They are noied for the briskness of their gait, always hold their heads well up, look straight before them, and never turn their eyes to the ground.
When the girls have collected enough eggs, butter, and meal, they start off, as evening approaches, for some river, watercourse, or spring near the village, carrying their bedizened birch trees, and singing as they step along.
It must be remembered that the Russian peasantry celebrate Semik with various ceremonies in which songs, special to the occasion, occur. It is highly probable that these ceremonies are not originally Slavonic, but have been borrowed from a people of Finnish stock. In the governments of Nizhegorod and Simbirsk both the Mordvins and the Russians, living in close proximity, sing the following song in Russian. The Mordvin girls, too, sing it in Russian when going to their festival :
" Bless us, o Trinity, Thou mother [too] of God, While going to the woods To plait together wreaths Of branches of the birch.
01 Did Lado ! My wee birch tree I
" We'll to the forest go, We'll gather flowers there, We'll plait together wreaths.
Oi Did Lado !
My wee birch tree !