Lada is a Slavic goddess of love and beauty and she is very famous among other tribes too. This mighty goddess is also showing up in a form of Freyja, Isis, Aphrodite and many others. She is linked with Venus and its power. Lada is presented as a girl with long golden hair in which is sometimes placed a wreath of wheat, which symbolizes her function of the goddess of fertility.
She was valuable to Slavs in ancient times as a God and even today her name Lada is used as a symbol for many items. You probably heard of a Russian car brand ‘Lada’ named by this Goddess, but also her name is very popular as a female name in Slavic countries. Either way, Lada is one of the most important figures in Slavic pantheon and as such she played an important role in Slavic mythology.
Etymology of the name “Lada”
The Proto-Slavic: *ladъ translates as “nice, pretty, order”. Origin of this name is unknown.
Ethnologist Vitomir Belaj from Croatia noticed she is one of the most common Slavic mythological entities that appears in great number of summer songs and festivities in various Slavic nations. In most of these songs a character named Lado, Lada or similar is mentioned.
The Goddess of The Summer
On her chest is sometimes seen a symbol of the sun, a sign of life-giving power. As a fertility goddess, Lada has an annual cycle that shows the belief that she dwells in the realm of the dead until the vernal equinox. This world of the dead is Irij, and besides Lada, Veles, horned god of cattle also lives in it. In the moment when Lada needs to go outside in the world and brings the spring, Gerovit opens the door to Irij, letting the fertility goddess to bless the land. At the end of the summer, Lada returns to the Irij.
Although her reign begins on March 21, Lada is, above all, the goddess of the summer. She follows Vesna, Slavic spring goddess. However, both of these goddesses are related to fertility and it is sometimes difficult to separate their functions. As we see, Lada’s rule begins in spring and lasts only as long as the period of fertility. In addition to being associated with the Sun, Lada is tied to the rain and hot summer night, which is the ideal time for the respect of a goddess of love.
Rituals Dedicated To Lada
The sun, warm night and rain belong to Lada. Her animals are cock, deer, ant, and plants, cherry, lime, dandelion and peony. Girls prayed to Lada for beauty, and there is also ceremony ladarice, which in Serbia is performed under the name of “Queen”.
The basic features of this ritual are described in one Serbian example:
On the day of the Holy Trinity, there is usually a group of ten young girls, one dressed like a queen, the other as a king, and the third as a standard-bearer. Queen sits on a chair while other girls dance around her, a king and bearer play for themselves. In this way, the Queen goes from house to house looking for girls to marry. One more ritual in the name of Lada is skipping fire.
In her honor, the young people gathered in homes or on trips in nature, preferably in time to mark Saint John’s Eve. In both cases, the rounds played and sung the song to Lada, with the refrain: “Hey Lada”. They were performed by Slavic rusalkas and these rituals were so popular that they were kept hundreds of years to the time of Christianity. It is noted that the Russian priests complained that this pagan occurrence cannot be suppressed because the young people came in Christian temples and started the games dedicated to Lada. This is why the Orthodox Church changed a bit the characters of these rituals, so now in Christianity we have queens, not rusalks. Lada’s ceremony was a bachelor knitting wreath, that were placed on the girls’ heads, and later retrieved to the boys, who carried them home and hung above the front door or on the walls in their rooms. Young men put a some wreaths round the neck of the statues of their gods, which are kept in their houses.
The interesting thing about Lada is that the Russians gave their car line the name Lada, and it is one of the most legendary cars in the Slavic history.
Well, isn’t Lada just magical? Goddess, not the car. But, I have to admit, car too has a bit of magic in it. Obvious reason why Russians decided to give this car line name “Lada” was the protective symbolism that her name carries. Just take it for a ride now!