Annually, on April 7, Orthodox Christians celebrate the Annunciation of Blessed Virgin Mary - the third most important holiday after Easter and Christmas - in memory of the good news for the Virgin Mary about her immaculate conception and the birth of the Son of God.
The Gospel of Luke says that after Mary became engaged to Joseph, the Archangel Gabriel came to her in Nazareth with good news. He informed her that the Holy Spirit miraculously came upon her, and the Virgin carried the Son of God in the womb. One of the symbols of the Annunciation is the white doves in the blue sky, as these birds represent the good news.
The current name of the holiday was widely used only from the seventh century. Prior to this, the holiday had many other names: “Day of Salutation,” “Annunciation,” “Beginning of Atonement,” “Conception of Christ.”
This holiday is associated with one of the most common prayers of Orthodox believers - “The Hail Mary Prayer.” Along with “The Lord’s Prayer,” she is on the list of obligatory morning prayers and is present in all solemn liturgies. Among the Catholics of the Western Rite, this prayer is known as “Ave Maria.”
Among European nations, this holiday was associated with the beginning of spring and the new agricultural year. In Ukraine, Christian traditions are closely intertwined with the pagan ones. It is believed that winter finally steps back at the Annunciation, primroses emerge, and the fields are preparing for sowing.
Church service begins in the evening and lasts all night. It is believed that prayers recited during the morning prayer on this day have a special power.
The prosphora is being sanctified in the church on this day, and consecration is accompanied by a special rite - Holy Communion. The priest blesses bread and wine and then gives them to people. The evening service concludes the celebration.
The Annunciation prosphora is kept behind the icons.