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Today, on April 7, Orthodox Christians celebrate the Annunciation - the third most important holiday after Easter and Christmas - as a memory of the good news for the Virgin Mary about her immaculate conception and the birth of the Son of God.
Origin of the holiday
According to the New Testament, after Mary became engaged to Joseph, the archangel Gabriel came to Nazareth with good news. He informed her that the Holy Spirit miraculously descended upon her, and the Virgin in the womb carried the Son of God. Maria was frightened, but the envoy reassured her and persuaded that she was chosen.
This story was first described in the Gospel of Luke.
In the customs of European peoples, this holiday was associated with the beginning of spring and the new agricultural year. In the English tradition, it was called the "Day of Mary" (until 1752 it marked the arrival of the New Year).
On the territory of Ukraine, Christian traditions are closely interwoven with pagan traditions. It is believed that on the Annunciation winter finally recedes, God blesses the land, primroses are emerging, the fields are preparing for sowing (before this, to touch the land was considered a great sin).
Celebration of the Annunciation was established by the church in the IV century. The date was fixed, counting 9 months from the Nativity of Christ. On the Gregorian calendar is celebrated on March 25, on Julian - on April 7. The choosing of the date is also argued by the fact that on March 25 that God created a man.
Even if the Annunciation falls on Easter, its church celebration is not canceled, while fasting is weakened. The deadlines with which it coincides are the Thursday of the third week of Lent and the Wednesday of the Easter week (in Orthodoxy).
The church service begins in the evening and lasts all night. It is believed that the set of prayers that are read during the matins on this day has a special power. During the morning service, the consecration of food takes place, and it is accompanied by a special ritual – Holy Communion. The priest blesses bread and wine and then gives them to people. The evening service ends the celebration.
Sanctified holy wafers (‘prosphores’ in Ukrainian) people keep in the house near the icons. Usually, they are crumbled and poured into honey ("for bees to swarm"), mixed with the ground and sown along the four corners of the field ("for the rain over the field"), buried in the ground.
On this day, people let loose birds and animals ("to hear the spring and take care of themselves"), beehives are put on the yard. Only after the celebration of the Annunciation is it permitted to start fieldwork.
The weather for the Annunciation - this is also the weather for Easter.
Rime or fog - to a good harvest, a thunderstorm - to the hot, rain - to the mushrooms.
Warm night - the spring will be without frost.
No swallows in the sky - the spring will be cold and protracted.
Windless sunny weather - to frequent thunderstorms.
On the Annunciation, it is prohibited to:
- sew ("whoever takes the thread in hand - knots his fate");
- get a haircut, wash your hair ("You can break your destiny or lose your hair");
- start something new ("You’ll be unlucky");
- put on new things ("the thing quickly wears down");
- lend money ("along with money or another item you can lose health and family well-being");
- invite guests to the house (it is better to spend a holiday with relatives);
- kindle the oven ("there will be a fire");
- get drunk ("drunkards will appear in the family");
- start field work ("the seeds will lose their strength and never rise");
- put eggs under the chicken ("cripples will hatch").
We recall, tomorrow, on April 8, Christians of the Eastern Rite will celebrate Easter - the main religious holiday, the day of the resurrection of Christ.