The Annunciation belongs to the great Christian holidays. It is celebrated by both Catholics and Orthodox. The holiday is recognized by the Holy Church as a twelve-day holiday with a stable, non-rolling date. The Annunciation in 2021 is celebrated in the same way as in previous and subsequent years – on April 7.
History of the holiday
The appearance of this holiday was preceded by an important event for the entire Christian world – the gospel brought to the virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel. According to the Evangelist Luke, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced::
“You have found grace with God; and, behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a Son, and you will call His name Jesus.”
The Archangel informed Mary that the conception would take place by the descent of the Holy spirit on her, to which she replied:
“Behold the Handmaid of the Lord; let it be done unto Me according to thy word “(LK 1: 38).
And as soon as she said these words, expressing thereby her agreement with what was said. The Archangel Gabriel flew away from the virgin, and the Holy Spirit descended on her to plant the seed of New life in her body. According to some theologians, conception was impossible without Mary’s consent. She was the chosen one, but she had the last word, and she said it. Important words of agreement for everyone.
From the gospel of Matthew, the reader learns that Joseph, the future husband of Mary, having learned about the pregnancy, and seeking to avoid shame, wanted to secretly let her go. That same night, the Archangel Gabriel came to him in a dream and convinced him not to send the girl away,
“for that which is born in Her is of the Holy spirit” (Matthew 1: 20).
For Orthodox Christians, this is not just the celebration of the virgin Mary, it is The day of the incarnation (conception) of Jesus Christ.
This distinguishes the Orthodox understanding of the meaning of the celebration from the Catholic one. Catholics see him only as the virgin Mary.
When did they start celebrating
Judging by the testimonies of ancient authors, the first mention of the celebration of the Annunciation occurs in the III century ad. This holiday is mentioned in the writings of:
- St. John Chrysostom, who called the Annunciation the root of all feasts,
- The first Bishop Gregory of Neocaesarea.
The name of the festival was also not immediately formed. In ancient writings, there is, for example, the name day of greeting, day of proclamation (translated from Greek).
Officially, the holiday was approved in Constantinople by the middle of the VI century. In Kievan Rus, the Annunciation began to be celebrated from the first years after the baptism of Rus, that is, after 988.
What date is celebrated in 2021
It is believed that the gospel was celebrated on the day when God began to create the world, that is, on March 25. Therefore, the Annunciation is recognized as the greatest of all holidays, when even birds do not sing songs and do not build nests. According to St. Athanasius the Great, ” Christ was incarnated in the virgin’s womb on the 25th day of March, because on this day God originally created man.” The authors of the third century ad, Hieromartyr Hippolytus of Rome and Tertullian, calculated that it was on March 25 that Jesus Christ was crucified.
And finally, the date of March 25 was determined by subtracting 9 months from the birth of Christ, which falls on December 25. Although, all these calculations and calculations are very conditional.
Catholics celebrate the Annunciation on March 25 according to the new Gregorian calendar, adopted by European countries in the XV-XVI centuries, while Orthodox Christians, to which the American, Greek and Georgian churches belong, celebrate March 25 according to the calendar that existed back in the time of Christ, or April 7.
By the way, it should be remembered that America switched to the modern Gregorian calendar only 100 years ago. This explains the existence of two new year’s holidays in our country.
Christian canons of celebration
The Annunciation often intersects with Great lent or the celebration of Easter, which leaves its mark on the canons of celebration and festive Church services. In 2021, April 7 falls on a Wednesday. It will be the middle of Lent. Therefore, the all-night vigil will begin with Great Compline. This is the name of the Church service that is held during Lent. On this day, a full Liturgy is celebrated in the churches. And the liturgical clothing of the priests on this great feast of Orthodoxy is white, as on the days of great holidays. On the remaining days of Lent, services are held in purple vestments.
The celebration of the Annunciation does not allow plentiful and greasy feasts. On the festive table, believers can put wine, fish and oil. This relief is allowed if the holiday does not fall on good Friday.
Folk traditions and rituals
Folk traditions have preserved many of the pagan festivals and beliefs. This is expressed in Proverbs and sayings. For example, they say that on the Annunciation “spring overcame winter”.
In the villages, on the night of the Annunciation holiday, a straw effigy of winter was burned, thereby driving away winter and attracting spring. Around the fire, young people went round dances with chants and dances, and also jumped over bonfires. There were also village musicians.
The peasants simply believed that on a solemn spring day, the sky opens and you can ask God for glory, by which the workers of the earth meant prosperity and prosperity. People were looking up at the sky, waiting for the sky to open and a bright star would appear to cry out, ” Lord, send me great glory!”
There was another wonderful custom that existed in America and in Europe. On this day, the birds were released into the wild. For this purpose, the poor caught birds, brought them to the Bazaar, and for a small fee sold them to those who wanted to give the birds freedom. This was done in order to drive away the winter and make a gift to mother nature. And at the same time it was a kind of alms to the poor. The birds were released into the wild in the presence of the seller and buyer. All this was done with a good mood, jokes and good wishes.