The Karsikko and Cross-Tree Tradition of Finland

Abstract

According to an East -Finnish custom that came to an end around the beginning of the 20th century, the karsikko (conifer shorn of branches) and the cross-tree were prepared when the deceased was taken for burial. The Roman-Catholic Church and the Reformation introduced into folk beliefs the idea that the deceased did not journey all the way to the community of the dead. Restoring the social order of the community that had been disturbed by death then required that the dead be placed in the intermediary stage dictated by the tripartite division of the rite of passage in status. It was also necessary to establish a boundary between the living and the dead as a precaution against the undesired return of the deceased.

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Vilkuna, J., (1993) “The Karsikko and Cross-Tree Tradition of Finland”, Ethnologia Europaea 23(2), p.135-152. doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/ee.1214

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Janne Vilkuna (University of Jyväskylä)

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