The Eastern Christians celebrate Savior of the Honey Feast Day or Honey Spas today, on August 14.
According to the legends, this holiday was established in the orthodoxy as, during the midst of the epidemic, the citizens of Constantinople took part of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified from St. Sofia church and blessed water bodies and wells. Then the disease left the city.
First Spas is often called Water Spas or Wet Spas as it considered that Volodymyr the Great baptized Kyiv Rus in August. According to the Slavic tradition, the lesser blessing of water takes place in the churches as well as of newly gathered honey. It is blessed for eating so people make honey gingerbread; eat pancakes with poppy and honey, pies, buns and honey rolls.
People must dip in water to wash their sins away and improve their health. It is forbidden to swim after it as water began to bloom at the end of the summer and it was dangerous to swim.
For village citizens, it is the beginning of the harvest and haymaking. It was time for the preparation of the threshing floor, barn for new harvest bread, arable land for winter crops. The wreaths made of spikes of the new harvest were blessed in the church.
There is one more name of the holiday – Makoviya as people started to gather poppy this day and baked cakes with it. At the times of pagan Rus, people create special bouquets-talismans Maccabees, which protected the family from the disasters during the whole year. People continued to gather them after Christianity came.
In the old days, Maccabee was made of 17 kinds of grass. It should include viburnum, rut and calendula, origanum, spikes of oat, mint, bupleurum aureum, Gentiana, melilot, poppy bulbs and branches of Artemisia. The gathered grass had to be bind with a red ribbon and blessed in the church. The dried Maccabee was the best to store on the windowsill for the whole year as the protection from evil charms.
Besides, on August 14, the Uspenskiy fasting begins and it lasts until August 28. It is strict; on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays people practice eating of dry food; on Tuesdays and Thursdays it is possible to eat the warm meal but without oil; on Saturdays and Sundays people may eat a warm meal with vegetable oil and drink wine. People may eat fish only on the Transfiguration of Jesus and the Dormition of the Mother of God.
Makoviya is not just a religious holiday. Starting from this people began the autumn filed work and honey harvest; the swallows started to fly away and people prepared for the end of the summer.