Crow’s Day, or ‘Vurna Khatl’ (in the Khanty language), ‘Urna-ekva Khotal’ (in Mansi), ‘Varne-yalya’ (in Nenets) is considered to be the Day of the coming spring, traditionally celebrated in the day, when the crows fly back. Later its celebration was transferred to the Annunciation of the Holy Mother of God, April 7. Crow’s Day is the favorite holiday of the Obskye Ugric peoples (Khanti and Mansi). In Khanty-Mansiisk the celebration is organized in the open-air museum of Torum-Maa.
According to the Obskye Ugric peoples’ beliefs, the crow was connected with female protecting spirit, and Crow’s Day – with the Sun. The crow was considered to be the herald of life and protectress of women and children. The Obskye Ugric peoples associated the crow with the progenitress, called Kaltash-ekva, helping women by childbirth; or Torum-evi, the divine Virgin-Mother, assuming the aspect of the crow. On this day people used to cook venison and meat of other livestock, visit each other, treat each other, and perform traditional dances, including those representing birds’ behavior in spring. They were danced by women, with their faces covered by kerchiefs.
On the edge of the village people did the so-called ‘pori’, or bloodless sacrifice: they put a table and laid the sacrificial food for the crows on it. On the birches they hang many fresh-backed ‘kalatch’ (kind of fancy loaf), symbolizing the Sun; they were eaten by children. On the Kazym River people treat the crows to venison and asked: “Don’t touch our reindeer and young deer!”
On the Northern Sosva River and the Lyapin River people stored up the meat of the young deer, caught while hunting in winter, in order to prepare a festive dish for children in spring.