Monday, August 11, 2008
THE DORMITION FAST (SPASIVKA) AND THE 3 SALVATIONS (SPAS)
Тhe month of August brings us to the beginning of the harvest period of the church calendar. It also is a time of fasting and penance, as we prepare for the great Holyday of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Uspinnya).
From ancient times, our people devised an ingenious series of feasts and blessings, to thank God for the bounty of the harvest and to ask his blessing upon the produce of the year. They designed three “salvations” (spas), centered around three different feasts of the Savior, in gratitude for various commodities that were essential at that time and still now. Also, they prepare us spiritually for the beginning of the new church year on Sep 1/14.
The first or Honey Salvation on Aug 1/14 commemorates the Feast of the Procession of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross remembers the signs given by the icons of the Savior and the Theotokos during Prince Andriy Boholyubsky’s battle against the Volga Bulgars in 1164. The holiday has the name of the “Honey Salvation” because on this day, strict adherents of popular customs and fasting are allowed to eat honey, after its sanctification in the church.
During the Spasivka period, two more “salvations” take place—the second or “Apple Salvation” on Aug 6/19, the Feast of the Transfiguration, when apples and other fruits are blessed and the third or “Nut-Tree Salvation” on Aug 16/29, the day honoring the Icon of Our Lord, “not made by hands.”
We will explore these themes in the next weeks. What is most important is that we take this time, as summer wanes and autumn is on the horizon, to bring our spiritual lives into focus, especially through greater participation in liturgical services of the church and reception of the sacraments of confession and communion. +Vladyka Mykhayil