Savior of the Honey Feast Day (Медовый спас)
08 August, 2017
If you love celebrating Russian festivities, you will have plenty of choices during the summer! August is the most productive month of the year, when Slavic people celebrate three different Saviour (спас) days: the first one is the Savior of the Honey Feast Day, on the 14th of August, then the Savior of the Apple Feast on the 19th of August and, last but not least, the Savior of the Nut Feast Day on the 29th of August. These three feasts have a pre-Christian origin and they are associated with the end of summer and the harvest of ripe fruits. As time passed, they became three important festivities of the Orthodox Church and they’re still celebrated nowadays, especially in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
As the first Savior Feast Day is approaching, I’m going to tell you something more about this “sweet” (сладкий) holiday. The Savior of the Honey Feast Day is considered the very first autumn’s festivity because by this time the beehives have already been filled with honey, and beekeepers traditionally start reaping the harvest. Since ancient times, on this day there is the special tradition to gather fresh honey and take it to the church to bless it. Only after this ritual you are allowed to eat it. People believed that honey had mystical and healing powers, which could overcome many diseases. It was also believed that after Honey Savior bees stop bringing honey, so you need to “break” honeycombs so that other bees wouldn’t steal your honey. On this day people paid attention to the weather and the global behaviour of nature. Traditionally, it is believed that nature is going through certain changes after this day: bees stop bringing honey to their hives, bee-keepers cut the hives, martins and swallows fly away, roses stop blooming and, of course, it gets colder. All signs of the summer’s departure.
The Savior of the Honey Feast Day is not only about honey. This holiday is also called “Mokryi Spas”, literally “Wet Spas”, because on the 14th of August 988 Grand Prince of Kiev Vladimir converted to Christianity and proceeded to baptize all of Kievan Rus’; therefore, people believed that water was blessed in all the water sources and that farmers should bathe cattle and horses on that day. Moreover, on the same day the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches also commemorate the seven Maccabean martyrs.
During the period of the three Savior days, fairs and events are organised in many Russian and Ukranian cities. In St. Petersburg, they organise an interesting honey fair called Выставка – Ярмарка “Медовый спас-2017” (Fair – exhibition Medovy Spas 2017) and this year it will take place from the 10th until the 15th August at the Saint Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex (SKK Peterburgsky, Yuria Gagarina Prospekt 8, metro station Park Pobedy). In this exhibition, you will have the opportunity to smell, taste and buy a wide variety of fresh honey from all over the country; in many stands, you will find also other tasty agricultural and monastery products. According to the exhibition program, they will also organise a contest for the best beekeeper of the fair, different masterclass and many other activities.
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