On the fortieth day after Easter, which is June 6 in 2019, Eastern Rite Christians celebrate the twentieth feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ to the heaven, or the Ascension of the Lord. The ascension completes the salvation of Christ after death and rebirth. In the spiritual aspect, it is a celebration of hope to meet the Lord during His second coming.
The history of holiday
The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated in the memory of the ascension of Jesus to heaven. Biblical proclamations say that after his earthly death Jesus talked with the apostles in the image of man for forty days, teaching them, and then, along with them, he went down to Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, where he blessed the disciples and ascended.
Ten days after the ascension, the Holy Spirit came to the earth, who gave the apostles spiritual power that they needed to preach Christ's teachings.
In the spiritual aspect, Ascension is a celebration of hope for meeting with the Lord during His second coming. According to the Scriptures, when Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, the apostles saw two angels, who told them that there would be the second coming of the Savior to the earth, “He will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The Ascension became a separate holiday only at the end of the IV century. Previously, this event was mentioned during the celebration of the Pentecost cycle.
How it is celebrated
It is a long-standing tradition that within all 40 days starting from Easter and till Ascension of the Lord the gates of hell and heaven remained open. During this period the souls of dead saints can walk on earth and the souls of sinners do not feel damnation.
On the eve of the holiday, churches serve all-night vigil. A solemn liturgy takes place on Ascension of the Lord day.
On this day, church recommends pay special attention to charity. Earlier, people were putting coins on windowsills for the poor. They used to put plates with food, water and milk near the doors. As a ruled, they put boiled eggs, baked potato, flatbreads.
In addition, on the Ascension, women baked bread-ladders. It was believed that such dishes would help the souls of ancestors to ascend to heaven sooner. Bread was taken to the cemetery and in the fields, so that rye and flax grew higher to the sky. Our ancestors threw baked bread from the roof and saw how many pieces it broke to: it was believed that this is a number of sins of this person.
On the Ascension people would go to the church and pray for prosperity and health. Oon this day, before going down to heaven, the Lord, as it is believed, hears all requests of people and fulfills them. Also on this holiday people would apologize to everyone with whom they quarreled.
What things people cannot do on the Ascension Day
As on any other church holiday, the church does not recommend to argue, cussing or wish someone harm. Besides, it is forbidden to say: Christ has risen as the Epitaphios is taken out of a church.
In the old days, it was forbidden to throw the garbage and spit on the street because it is possible to hit Jesus Christ, who comes to the homes as a poor person. That is why it is also forbidden to refuse the travelers. It is not recommended to do difficult work as it distracts from the reflection on the God and prayer.
Signs and rites
There is such custom to curl a birch on the Ascension Day. The girls braided a few branches of the birch in their braids and observed whether they will wither. If the branches stay green until Pentecost, a fate of girl will be successful.
Besides, it is recommended to observe the weather this day. If the weather is good, it will be so until the autumn. The rain serves as a bad sign and predicted diseases and bad harvest.
Dew considered to be healing this day and grass strengthens and keeps its healing nature up to July 7 (Kupala Night).