Tamara KUKHARENKO, “FACTS”
July 7, comes one of the most beloved national holidays — Ivan Kupala. And on the Church calendar, the Orthodox and Greek Catholics celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist (Catholics falls on June 24). In the tradition of this holiday is closely intertwined Christian and pagan beliefs.
The Nativity Of John The Baptist
Christmas honest slavnogo Prophet, forerunner and Baptist John — this is the full name of the great feast which the Orthodox and Greek Catholics celebrated on 7 July. It was installed in memory of the described in the gospel of Luke and the events connected with the birth of one of the most revered Christian saints.
I must say that for Orthodoxy the celebration of the Nativity of the Holy — rare phenomenon. In fact, in the Orthodox Church calendar there are only three events of this kind — the birth of Jesus Christ, the Nativity of the virgin and the Nativity of John the Baptist. In addition, it is also one of the oldest festivals — the first mention of it belong to the III century and the beginning of IV he was introduced in the Christian calendar.
Who is John the Baptist
John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus Christ. His parents were the priest Zechariah, of the family of Aaron, brother of prophet Moses (the representatives of this genus have become priests in the Jerusalem temple) and the righteous Elizabeth of king David, who was a sister of the Holy Anna — mother of virgin Mary (according to other sources, the elder sister of St Anne was mother of Elizabeth). This pious couple who lived near the city of Hebron, located South of Jerusalem, was childless and suffered greatly from “vilification between people” who regarded the absence of children God’s punishment for grave sins. Passionately desiring to have a child and constantly bolevshie God to grant them a child, Zacharias and Elizabeth, advanced in age, and are unable to have children due to infertility Elizabeth. And once, when Zechariah served in the temple, near the altar appeared to him the Archangel Gabriel with the incredible news that their prayers were heard and soon they have a son, who should be called John (the blessing of the Lord). And this child destined to fulfill a special role in the history of mankind, becoming the forerunner of the Messiah, awaited by the old Testament Church. Mindful of his age and the age of his wife, Zacharias doubted the possibility of such a miracle, for which he was punished with dumbness.
As predicted by the Archangel Gabriel, it was back to Zechariah on the eighth day after birth, when his house came the priests and relatives, to the law of Moses to do on infant circumcision. It was necessary to give the child a name. Guests offered to call him in honor of his father, but Elizabeth insisted on the name John, though so their family has no name. Zechariah wrote on a tablet: “his Name is John”, and then returned to him the speech and he was able to thank God for his greatest gift.
And six months later, shortly after the birth of Jesus Christ, the king of the Jews Herod sent his soldiers to kill all male children in Bethlehem and in all its borders (as was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah). On hearing this, Elizabeth, rescuing son, and fled into the wilderness, and Zechariah was left to continue his Ministry in the temple. In his temple and killed by the soldiers of Herod for refusing to indicate the place where you hid his child. Elisabeth survived her husband for a while, and the kid was left alone. He grew up, tutored by the angels, he ate locusts and wild honey, wore clothing made of coarse camel hair, papayas leather belt.
When he turned 30 he started his Ministry. Calling people to repentance, he baptized them in the waters of the Jordan river. Was baptized by John and Jesus Christ. The prophet popularly recognized him as the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior of the human race.
Except for the Nativity of John the Baptist, there are several dates when the Church commemorates this Saint on October 6 — his conception, September 11 — the beheading of St. John the Baptist, March 8 — first and second finding of the head of the prophet, June 7 third finding of the head of the Saint, October 25 — the transfer of his right hand from Malta to Gatchina and January 20 — St. John the Baptist.
7 July — Ivan Kupala holiday
No less than this Holy love and the people. In Ukraine people have always worshiped the Forerunner, and the name Ivan became one of the most popular.
However, in the tradition of this holiday is closely intertwined Christianity and pagan beliefs. So, in ancient times, in national life it coincided with the day of the summer solstice and was named Ivan Kupala (Ivan — on behalf of the Baptist, and Kupala — on behalf of one of the pagan deities). In different places call it and bathed, Kupaylo, Kupala, Kopilica and Vanw day, and Vanes, Michael, herbalist, Ivan-lapusnik, Ivan-Chaklun. (By the way, in our time date of the summer solstice doesn’t coincide with the Nativity of John the Baptist neither the Julian nor to the Gregorian calendars.)
And if we talk about what kind of deity this is Kupala, here the opinions of researchers differ somewhat. Some believe that Kupala — the God of earthly fruits, of harvest, prosperity and water, others — that is God of earth’s fertility, and others — that it is not God at all, but a goddess, the patroness of harvests of heathen farmers. And there are those who believe that the pagan name of God is derived from the Latin word cupido, and we know Kupala — “relative” of the ancient Cupid.
One way or another, but at the heart of Midsummer rites is the worship of the sun and the water, and the main elements of the holiday are symbols of purification — fire and water.
The people believed that John the Baptist in his birthday with blessed water, drove out all the evil spirits, and because of this it is best to open the swimming season in rivers and lakes. And the biggest benefits of bathing at dawn on 7 July, especially if in front of him three times to pronounce the words: “Vodice-studenytsya, T. vivas Luga, take care, kamna-kremna. AMI i moï to th soul.”
A mandatory attribute of the festival the people believed the fires, which it was customary to dissolve only by the friction of wood on wood. They symbolized the sun and jump through them to be purified by fire, to be strong and healthy. And later the youth began to use the jumping over the fire in pairs, hand in hand to determine their future: will disperse hands during a jump — the relationship will not develop.
Prohibitions and signs
According to popular belief, the Kupala night is absolutely impossible to sleep. We need to be vigilant to avoid becoming a victim of any evil spirits, which is now becoming particularly brazen.
But it is also a magical night, when plants and animals get the ability to talk to each other, trees can go from place to place, and medicinal herbs are gaining the greatest therapeutic effect. Therefore, one of the highlights of the holiday was gathering herbs and roots. Some herbs you need to gather during the day, some at night and before dawn. They were used for the treatment of various diseases and as protection from evil forces. For example, it was believed that collected at dawn and placed on the corners in the house flowers Ivan da Marya will reliably protect the house from thieves. And ripped in the morning on the eve of wormwood, which along with other herbs and flowers girls definitely woven into the Midsummer wreath would be guaranteed protection from mermaids and witches. By the way, sometimes woven in this holiday wreaths are carried home and laid in the garden “dwellers good growing cucumbers that harbuzi”.
But mostly, of course, the girls used wreaths in order to learn their fate. A wreath of 12 herbs, in which was inserted a lighted candle, let the river. Which way he will go there, and we should wait for the groom. If sails smoothly and quietly — life husband and see if we flipped or tripped over something in family life will have a hard time. If the wreath will beat to the shore or he will spin in one place, marriage in the near future will not happen. And if, God forbid, a wreath will drown that’s never good, but if it does resurface, and even against the current, all goes well. Very bad luck — extinguished candle.
With the holiday of Ivan Kupala is associated the most famous and most mysterious ancient Ukrainian legend about the fern, which blooms with a fiery color only once a year — on the night of Midsummer day. To disrupt this flower is incredibly difficult — the whole forest of evil makes everything possible in order not to give people even just to find it. But if a miracle happens, do the following: praying to spread about flowering fern tablecloth sanctified, consecrated knife to circle around a circle, sprinkled with Holy water the fern, and only then to pick a flower. But having broken to run, in any case, not looking back. And the one who is all done this and survived, will receive the gift to see the future, you will begin to understand the language of animals and can easily find any treasure.
The festival ends with the burning or drowning of a tree, symbolizing winter, or even death. Since ancient times call such decorated with ribbons and garlands a tree (very often it’s just a big branch of a tree) Marinou or Mara, and sometimes by the name of the feast of Kupalo or Kopilica, in the Western regions of Ukraine it is called glce. Besides him, there’s a straw doll, dressed in women’s clothing — women’s likeness of Mary. And the tree and the doll drowned in water or burned in the fire, and then buried in the ground until next summer.
And preserved another age — old tradition of the Kupala directly under the trees on the river Bank lay the table for dinner. And although the food is usually lean, since Midsummer’s day always falls on the fast of the apostles, no one leaves the festival hungry.
On this day, the nameday: Ivan, Anton, Nikita, Yakov.
Recall that the fast of the apostles begins a week after Pentecost, and always ends July 12 — the feast of Peter and Paul.