Today believers celebrate the last summer holiday - Saint Elijah Day. On this day, people usually prayed for redemption from drought. Saint Elijah Day usually occurs on the border of the seasons and it is considered to be mid of summer when it is getting closer to winter.
The only one among the prophets who was taken to heaven alive
People believed that Elijah is one of the strictest prophets, master of rains, thunder, and flashes of lightning, protector of warriors. However, Elijah is also generous because he sends fructuousness to the land and according to the Holy Writ, his prayers brought people to life.
Elijah is often depicted at the icon in the fiery chariot. St. Elijah is the only one among the prophets who was taken to the Celestial Kingdom during his lifetime; the fiery chariot went down to him at the end of his life; it was harnessed with four horses and took him to heaven.
Prophet Elijah was born in Tishbe, c. 900 BCE. According to the legend, when Elijah was born, his father had the vision: pleasant men welcomed a baby and swaddled him with fire. The prophet really dedicated himself to God; he lived, prayed, and fasted in the desert.
His task was to preach the name of God among pagans. It was believed that he convinced even nations with his miracles.
It is impossible not to mention the traditions for Saint Elijah Day. This day is covered with various beliefs and legends. Usually, it is raining and thundering this day, and people believe that Elijah carries his thunders from Kyiv to Jerusalem following heaven roads at the fiery chariot.
People consider this day to be on the border of two seasons when summer ends and autumn begins.
The haymaking usually ends on Saint Elijah Day and people started to harvest. Besides, Saint Elijah is considered to be the protector of agricultural workers.
If a person is caught in the rain this day; it is believed that person gets the health for the whole year. Rainwater was considered to be unusual on this day and it can wash away everything negative. If it is raining and thundering, the rainwater was collected and it was considered to be healing.
It was not allowed to run and shout during the rain on this day, as well as stand under the tree as lighting can hit it.
One more belief – it is not allowed to swim on this day as the water becomes colder. It is believed that Elijah rides horses on heaven and one of the horses loses the horseshoe due to the fast running and it falls in the water so the water is getting colder.
It was believed that dull thunder on this day predicts light rain and a rainstorm starts if the thunder is loud. Besides, the rain on this day predicts a heavy crop of grains the next year.
Besides, if it is cloudy on August 2, cloudy – people should expect an early harvest next year. If the sky is clouded at midday – the crops will be average. The sky is cloudy until the evening – people should expect late crops and a bad harvest.
The first church in Kyiv
During Kyiv Rus times, the honoring of Prophet Elijah was spread even before Christianization. In Slavic tradition, the figure of Elijah obtained some functions of the Perun god. Besides, the first church built in Kyiv during the ruling of Igor of Kyiv, was called after Prophet Elijah.
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga after her baptism built the church that was also dedicated to the prophet.