On April 7, the Orthodox Christian world will celebrate the Annunciation of the Most-Holy Mother of God, one of the 12 main holidays in the Church calendar. On this day, angel Gabriel announced to Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the son of God, the Saviour. Henceforth, the Annunciation means the Good News.
There are several stories about how it happened. According one story Virgin Mary was spinning a purple yarn for the church’s curtains, while another one says that she was on the way to a well for water, and the third story says that she was reading Isaiah. However, all stories end in same words. This is the most important. According to Luke, the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. This is the beginning of worldly life of Jesus. Priest Maksim Obykhov comments.
“The Annunciation holiday marks the beginning of the most important event in New Testament, the beginning of the worldly life of Jesus Christ. This is considered one of the main holidays in Christian Church. According to the Orthodox tradition, it is among the 12 most important holidays. This holiday is linked to the Mother of God and is celebrated during the Lent,” Maksim Obykhov said.
The day of the holiday is unchanged for both Orthodox Christians and Catholics. It is on the March 25. But since the Orthodox Church functions according to the Julian calendar that is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, Russia celebrates the Annunciation on April 7. This year the holiday is celebrated during the Lent says priest Alexander Martynenko.
“Despite the fact that the Lent is quite strict, on this day it is allowed to eat fish,” Alexander Martynenko said.
It is an old tradition to release birds from cages on this holiday. It symbolizes liberation and innovation, capabilities of a human as a free person, search for god’s kingdom. This tradition was forgotten for a long time, and it was revived in the 1990s. Since then the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, clergy and children release pigeons at the Annunciation Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin.
In Russia the Annunciation is linked to many signs because it is associated with spring, revival of nature, the sun and warm weather. It is believed that if rain falls on this day, there will be a good harvest. If this day is cold, then the entire spring will be cold.