The Orthodox Church celebrates the Elevation of the Holy Cross on September 27.
The holiday was established in memory of the cross used in the crucifixion of Jesus. It took place in 326 in Jerusalem near Calvary – the place of the crucifixion. The holiday is called the Elevation of the Holy Cross because the primate raised the church three times to enable everyone to see it during the appropriation and return of the Cross.
We will tell you more about events, meaning, and traditions of the Elevation of the Holy Cross.
The history of the holiday
In 326, Emperor Constantine the Great decided to find a lost relic – the True Cross. He went on a crusade to the Holy Land together with his mother, Empress Helena.
The excavations were held near Calvary; they found three crosses, nails, and a board that was put above the head of the crucified Savior. According to the legend, the ill person touched one of the crosses and he was healed. Thus, Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena learned which one out of three crosses is the real one. They worshipped the relic and then Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem started to show it to the people. For it, he stood at the up and raised the Cross.
In the VII century, one more holiday was added – the return of the True Cross from Persian captivity.
In 614, the Persian King captured Jerusalem and devastated it. He brought the True Cross to Persia. Only in 628, Emperor Heraclius obtained a victory over the Persians, concluded peace with them, and returned the Cross to Jerusalem.
The historians do not know the further fate of the relic. Some of them state that the Cross was in Jerusalem until 1245. Others stated that it was divided into parts and taken all over the world. Today, the True Cross is kept in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Traditions of the holiday
On the Elevation of the Holy Cross, the night-long vigil and divine service are being held. However, these days, the night-long vigil is a rare thing and the divine service on the eve of the holiday becomes the main event. People thank God for salvation and ask for health for themselves and their relatives.
It was considered earlier that the True Cross protects all living beings from the evil eye, the power of darkness and evil; that is why, the church blessed homemade crosses that were put in the cowsheds, barns, hidden places in the yards, as well as in water.
Besides, the faithful people keep a strict fast on the Elevation of the Holy Cross: it is forbidden to eat meat and dairy products, even if the holiday takes place on Sunday.
This day, only fasting dishes are served; mostly, they are cooked from cabbage from the new crop.
On the Elevation of the Holy Cross, people collected the last sheaf from the fields; it meant the end of the crop harvesting, the third holiday of autumn meeting, and the beginning of preparation for winter. The holiday concurred with the period of time of change to winter; it was used to gather different medicinal herbs on this day – basil, clove, and bachelor buttons.
What people cannot do on the Elevation of the Holy Cross?
People believed that on this day, it is better not to start or think about important stuff. Besides, it is not allowed to lend money: it will hinder the financial well-being of the family.
It is considered that on this day “snakes and cattle go to earth”. People who go to the forest on this day will disappear. On this day, it is not allowed to leave the doors open to prevent the cattle from entering the house.
Moreover, it is not allowed to eat dairy and meat food keeping a strict fast.