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No evidence photo shows women begging husbands for forgiveness in ‘forgotten’ tradition

In a meme shared on Facebook in South Africa, a black and white photo shows five women in old-fashioned clothes kneeling in front of five men. Some of the women have their hands clasped.

“A long forgotten Christmas tradition,” the text reads. “Women once used to beg their husbands for forgiveness from all of their wrongdoings and mistakes that they made throughout the year. Why did this tradition disappear?!?”

Does the photo show women “begging” their husbands for forgiveness? We checked.

The Russian White Dance

A TinEye reverse image search for the photo led us to a post on Russian social media site Here the photo’s Russian caption translates as: “Etiquette a century ago. Ladies invite gentlemen to the White Dance, 1900.”

The photo appears on a number of Russian-language web pages that say it shows women asking men to be their partners in the traditional Russian White Dance.

According to Women’s Activism in Contemporary Russia, a 1997 book by Linda Racioppi and Katherine O'Sullivan See, women would invite men to dance with them – instead of the usual reverse – for the “White Dance”. It inspired the Russian Women’s League White Dance Festival, which celebrated both sexes’ contribution to society.

According to a fact-check of the photo on the site Truth or Fiction, a similar tradition is found in the US and Canada, in the Sadie Hawkins Dance.

Africa Check could find no evidence that the photo shows a “long forgotten” Christmas tradition of women begging their husbands for forgiveness – nor any evidence that such a tradition ever existed. – Butchie Seroto


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