Our Domovoi. Americans: He’s just a short invisibile bearded dude that lives in your home, no biggie.
When I was growing up, we had a domovoi. Every Russian household does. In your head, he looks kind of like a shorter Peter Jackson. But of course, you don’t know for sure since you’ve never seen him.
Picture from here.
You keep him happy by keeping an organized, clean, and drama-free home, so between my neuroticism, my dad’s hypochondria, and my mom’s deep commitment to being a Jewish Lion Mom (tigers aren’t kosher,) I don’t think ours was thrilled. When he does get angry, he does mischevous things like hide laundry, money, and keys. If you lose something, that means “domovoi ukral,” the domovoi stole it. Will he return it? Stay tuned! Sometimes he can also trip you up or cause things to fall on their own accord. When he’s happy, he makes your garden grow, the people in your household healthy, and your home home-y.
Our house doesn’t feel homey yet, and I think it’s because we don’t have a domovoi. We didn’t lure him over the right way, which, according to this totally scientific guide is to,
The favorite place for these guys to live is either the threshold under the door or under the stove. When a new house is constructed, homeowners can attract Domovoi by placing a piece of bread down before the stove is put in.
And then you have to feed them carbs, just like The Real Housewives:
So, you have a Domovoi…now what? Proper respect must be paid to your little household helper. They enjoy salted bread wrapped in white cloth (sodium and carbs, they’re smart little guys), laying out white linen to invite him to eat with the family, and old shoes in the yard are all things that help keep your new friend happy.
I am all about keeping Russian pagan traditions going and trying to make our house feel more like a home, especially since it’s new construction, so I try to invite the domovoi into our house from time to time. I tell him we have FiOS and free HBO until August. I also try to bring him up in conversation so he knows he’s needed. It hasn’t worked yet, but there have been a couple of occasions where I’ve seen hopeful signs.
For example. Mr. B’s main job in the kitchen is to do the dishes. One evening last week, he was doing them and found a bowl of cherry pits in the sink that hadn’t been dumped in the trash before the bowl was washed. As a result, all the pits and stems spilled over into the sink and Mr. B had to pick them up one by one before he washed the rest of the dishes, because they can clog the garbage disposal.
“Why did you do this,” he asked me, frustrated.
“I didn’t do it, I don’t remember eating cherries this week,” I said, getting excited. “Maybe it was the domovoi!”
Mr. B gave me a look. “Are you kidding me?”
“No! He probably wanted some cherries.”
“No one in this household eats cherries except for you.”
“Be quiet, you’re going to make him angry,” (although I wasn’t sure if the domovoi speaks English. )
“I think you need to see a psychiatric professional. You’re blaming your laziness on an invisible man that may or MAY NOT live with us.”
After this conversation, I became kind of scared. Because when you say the domovoi doesn’t exist, all kinds of bad things can happen.
Like, maybe your laundry goes missing for a while. Or the domovoi eats all of your vanilla ice cream. Or maybe the domovoi creeps up on you one night while you’re sleeping and creepily whispers in your ear, “I think YOU need to see a psychiatric professional, because I am totally real.”