On August 28, the Orthodox Christians celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary - one of the twelve great holidays.
The holiday was preceded by a strict two-week Assumption Fast on August 14 - 27.
Important: Even if August 28 falls on Wednesday or Friday, believers are still not supposed to eat meat and dairy products, they are allowed to eat fish only.
The Assumption is the last of twelve holidays of the Orthodox church year, which has an interesting background and its own traditions.
Assumption Day: History
Let’s start with the term itself.
None of the four Gospels contains the description of the assumption of Mother of God (i.e. the information on the time, circumstances and burial).
The data come from the Apocrypha - non-canonical religious texts.
Here’s what can be learned from traditions:
- - After the ascension of Christ Maria was in the care of Apostle John according to the will of the Christ;
- - She lived in Jerusalem to the moment of her death;
- - Once the Archangel Gabriel appeared before her and told her she is going to the Kingdom in three days. As legend has it all the apostles exhorting in different countries miraculously gathered in Jerusalem to say farewell and bury the Virgin Mary;
- - the Mother of God was buried in the burial chamber of her parents. The apostles closed the entrance to the tomb with a stone. The church is there now named after Assumption of the Virgin Mary;
- - Thomas the Apostle was late for the funeral. He only came to Jerusalem on the third day after the burial. When the tomb was opened for him to say farewell, the body of the Holy Mother wasn’t there, only her shroud;
- - that day the apostles gathered together at a table, the Mother of God appeared before them and said: “Rejoice as I am with you all days!”
Thus the assumption of the Mother of God became a holiday but not a cause to mourn, as the Mother of God rejoined her son.
Assumption Day: Church traditions
Priests wear blue coats this day because blue belongs to the colors of the Mother of God.
Feast rites begin with night services.
Assumption Day: National traditions
On this day people used to start collecting crops in their gardens, only leaving apples and pears of winter sorts on the trees.
It is also considered to be the best time for weddings.
It is believed that one can’t go barefoot in the morning dew – as one may “gather all illnesses on oneself” because this is the day when the earth is mourning the Mother of God.
It’ is also forbidden to quarrel with anyone, to cut food with a knife or to stick sharp items into the soil as the earth has to have a rest.
According to folk saying, people used to predict the weather for the coming autumn –frost on the trees predicted freezing weather, fog - thawing weather.