Today, on September 27, the Orthodox Christians of the Byzantine Rite (Orthodox and Greek Catholics) celebrate one of the Great feasts - Feast of the Cross.
It was established by the church in memory of the finding of the Cross of the Lord, which happened, according to the church retelling, in 326 year in Jerusalem near the Mount Calvary, the place of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Starting from VII century, the recovery of the Life-giving Cross from Persia by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius was connected to this day.
The very name of the holiday is due to the custom of the Eastern Church to ritually erect the cross during the worshipping (to raise the Cross for all believers to see).
History of acquisition and recovery of the Cross
According to legend, the Cross of the Lord was found by the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, Empress Helena and Jerusalem Bishop Macarius. As a result of the excavations, they found the cave of the Holy Sepulchre, and three crosses near it.
The cross of Jesus Christ was found when a sick woman healed upon touching it.
As for the return of the Cross, the story is as follows:
The Persian king Khosrow II, in the war against the Greeks, in 609-633, defeated the enemy's troops, robbed Jerusalem and took away the Cross of Jesus Christ and Patriarch Zacharias.
The cross was in Persia for 14 years and only when the Emperor Heraclius I defeated Khosrow and made peace with his son, the Christian relics were solemnly returned to Jerusalem.
On this day, people thank the God for salvation and ask for the health of their loved ones.
Traditions on the Feast of the Cross
Our ancestors believed that the life-giving cross protects the living from illness, dark forces and evil; therefore, on this day, people blessed the homemade crosses in the church, put them in the house, in barns, in yards and in the water.
It was believed that by putting the cross and sprinkling the house with water blessed in the church helps to keep the household, the house, cattle and harvest from various misfortunes.
In addition, one should adhere to a strict fasting - neither meat nor dairy products can be eaten even if the holiday falls on Sunday.
Since the holiday coincides with coming of winter, on this day it was also common to collect various medicinal plants, which were considered to have a special healing power - knapweeds, cloves, basil, and other plants.
What cannot be done on the Feast
It is advisable not to quarrel on this day, as on any other great church feasts.
It is forbidden to engage in hard physical labor, as well as start a new business, since it is believed that everything will go wrong.
In addition, you cannot go to the forest: old people in some villages still believe that on this day the wood goblin recounts forest animals and the person should not be witnessing this.
It is advised not to keep the door open, as it is believed that after the day of the Feast, snakes are looking for places to spend winter and can sneak into the house.
One should not break the fast.