In Serbia, there were two types of belief related to German. One German or Djerman was a demon of atmosphere that brought bad weather, storms, rain and hail. Another German was Christian – St German, but he as well acquired some characteristics attributed to the ruler of weather conditions, so consequentially we have an interesting case of symbiosis between Christian and pagan elements. German was a Patriarch of Constantinople from 715 to 727 and was later canonized.
As for customs related to German, we know of many ways of burying the German doll. The doll was usually made of clay and had prominent genitals. Protruding sexual organs in god’s effigies were a sign of that god’s significant influence on fertility. The doll could also be made of straw. German’s burial was usually performed in times of severe drought. The ritual was preformed by girls, and usually it was prerequisite that they should be virgins. Dodolas also took part in the ritual, and one man was allowed also – his task was to make a coffin. The point of the whole ritual was to invoke rain.
When the storm was coming, in many regions women chanted various verses asking German to draw the storm elsewhere, to some place where it could do no damage.
Dolls representing Kupalo, Marena and Jarilo were also made. Jarilo’s characteristics were rather similar to German’s, so we can conclude that German actually took over Jarilo’s characteristics upon conversion to Christianity, and was transformed from a god into a demon.
by Nikola Milošević
translation by Snježana Todorović