August 2 - Day of the Prophet Elijah
August 2, Russian Orthodox Christians are celebrating the Day of the prophet Elijah - a very ancient holiday, which is associated with many interesting traditions and beliefs. These holidays are available in other Christian denominations - where they fall on other days, but also observed very rapidly and have fun. Besides Russia, the prophet Elijah is very "popular" in Greece, Georgia and most of Slavic countries.
Linked to this kind of love is this biblical prophet that he was "like" on several mythological characters, which different peoples worshiped before the adoption of Christianity. As a result of the holidays devoted to these characters, seamlessly and painlessly become a day of veneration of the prophet Elijah, retaining many of its attributes.
Where did the zip and chariot
Even in Byzantium, in the first century AD, Elijah is sometimes confused with the ancient Greek gods - Zeus and Helios. Which is not surprising - superficially prophet something reminded these two. As you know, Zeus, according to the ideas of the ancient Greeks, could command the thunder and lightning, and Helios, the sun god, rode across the sky in a fiery chariot. And that such "skills" possessed, according to biblical legend, the prophet Elijah.
The Statue of Zeus, founded in 776 BC. e.
More precisely, because of its perceived people who are not versed in the intricacies of the religious. In fact, in the Old Testament describes the history, when Elijah trying to convince King Ahab of Israel to give up the worship of the pagan god Vaaalu, invited him to make a kind of competition: put two altars with wood, one for Baal and the other to the true God, and see whose prayers will help them ignite firewood. The priests of Baal cried for a long time to their deity, but their altar, nothing happened, but in the altar, made by Elijah, was struck by lightning from the sky. And later, the prophet Elijah for his many achievements was taken alive to heaven. These legends often became subjects for paintings. The scene with the ascension of Elijah to heaven artists represented in different ways, including as if it rose into the air on a flying chariot. As a result, soon the image of the prophet is already firmly associated with lightning and chariots, flying in the sky, that is, with the main distinguishing features of Zeus and Helios. And since Zeus, according to mythology, it was also quite short-tempered and cruel nature Elijah too was ascribed to a severe temper. However, the early Christians still not considered a prophet in exactly the same as Zeus: it was seen as a strict only to sinners.
The classic image of Helios in the Greek amphora
Deputy Perun not only
Such a metamorphosis occurred with the prophet Elijah and the Slavic lands. The Slavs had a god of thunder - Perun, in some ways quite similar to Zeus. He was also the habit of just that - lightning throw in those who do not like him, and keep everyone at bay. Day of Perun in different areas could be celebrated at different times, but more often it was a summer holiday. In ancient Rus' it usually falls on 20 July. To this day in the fields came to an end cleaning of bread, vegetables and grass clippings - after the completion of this great work was necessary to have rest.
Start the day with the sacrifice of Perun - God of Thunder was necessary as it should appease. For this purpose, usually chose very big, strong and scary-looking bull. Then to cook the meat of the bull, a fire, and for him the fire was producing friction anyone of the priests. After the fire flared up, I started the main part of the celebration - dancing around fires and jumping over the fire, different fun competitions. Since Perun was considered not only a master of storms, but also the patron saint of soldiers, must-see destination holiday "program" in its day was a contest between men - fights and battles with different weapons.
So, our ancestors imagined Perun
After the adoption of Christianity in Russia, the prophet Elijah, in a sense replaced Perun. Holiday, dedicated to the god of thunder, has remained the same - it just changed its name to Elijah's day, and start it became not a sacrifice, but simply with the ignition of fires. In some areas, Elijah's Day for a long time continued to celebrate the 20th of July, and in some places celebrated twice - and on this day, and August 2nd.
Like the Byzantines, Slavs, too, began to perceive Elijah the prophet formidable amateur scare sinners, thunder and lightning. However, this did not prevent them to organize his day of fun festivities with songs, dances and tasty treats. Most often, Ilyin Day was celebrated in the open air, somewhere in the field, and the celebration of the gathered residents of several of the neighboring villages.
Later, approximately in the XII century, Elijah the prophet in Russia became confused with another Ilya, also canonized - Ilya Murom. Despite the fact that much similarities, except the names, between the saints there, the prophet Elijah, even now sometimes credited with some of the facts from the biography of his Murom namesake - for example, some dedicated to him an article states that it was he, not Ilya Muromets, the first 33 years of his life was seriously ill and could not even get out of bed.
Icon Ilya Murom
The rain - a good omen
Ilyin day in Russia was due to take a lot of different concerning the weather. It was believed that on this day, August 2, summer gives way to autumn, and it is the last day when you can swim in rivers and lakes. Most likely, this sign was the fact that in August in ponds usually begins algal blooms and swim there in the first place, is not very pleasant because of their peculiar smell, and secondly, it is dangerous because of various infections. In addition, our ancestors believed that the weather in Elijah's Day points to what will be next summer, if it starts to rain, the next year will be fruitful to this day.
The icon of the Prophet Elijah