THE SLAVA WE CELEBRATE IN MARCH
There are about 80 slava feasts among Orthodox Serbs. It is a family holiday, which originated in this area in the time of paganism, so it was transferred to Christianity.
Throughout the long and turbulent Serbian history, slava has survived, was and is now one of the main features of the Orthodox faith and Serbianness. But there were also periods, immediately after the Second World War, when the emphasis on religious affiliation, celebration and nurturing of religious customs was strictly forbidden.
We are witnesses that in the last decades of rapprochement of political and church institutions, the celebration of slava has been taken over by political parties. And for centuries, the people have publicly or secretly celebrated their patron saint and thanked him for good health, prosperity and protection from all evil.
In March, Orthodox Serbs celebrate several holidays.
March 2 - SAINT THEODOR TIRON
We have not often heard about this saint, so this is an opportunity to highlight the most important moments from his life.
First of all, when it comes to the meaning of the word tyrone, it means soldier-recruit. Saint Theodore Tyrone is also known as the patron saint of the city of Venice. In the 4th century, he found himself in Turkey, at the time of the great persecution of Christians. As he did not hide his Christian faith, he soon ended up in prison.
While they were torturing him and starving him, Christ appeared to him and encouraged him:
"Do not be afraid, Theodore, I am with you, do not take more earthly food and drink, because you will be in another life, eternal and imperishable, together we will be in heaven."
He was sentenced to death in 306.
Different customs and beliefs are related to Saint Theodore. On the day of this saint, Christians cook wheat, consecrate it in the church and celebrate Saint Theodore.
March 22 - THE HOLY FORTY MARTYRS OF SEBASTE
On this day, the Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebastia. It is dedicated to the memory of the suffering of the Holy Forty Soldiers, young men, a regiment in the city of Sebastia, who converted to Christianity in 320, during the reign of Emperor Licinius, despite the emperor's explicit ban. They were all soldiers in the Roman army and believed in Jesus Christ.
Because of their faith, these brave Christians were first flogged and then thrown into prison. They were soon brought before a military court. They were executed by throwing them into a lake near the city.
This holiday is popularly known as the Newlyweds, because the victims were young men. It is customary for newlyweds to be visited by couples who got married the year before and to give gifts.
There is an indirect connection between the holiday celebrated by the church and the Newlyweds. As it is celebrated at the time of the vernal equinox and the awakening of spring, young married couples, in a portable way, should receive the strength and energy of the time to come,
Newlyweds are a holiday with many customs among the Serbian people. On this day, women get up early and knead forty cookies, which are called newlyweds, and symbolize a long, happy and sweet life. The young men are smeared with honey, the housewives offer them to the children and everyone who comes to the house before noon.
March 30 - SAINT ALEXIUS
Saint Alexius of Rome, known as the "man of God", had a strange life story. He was born in Rome, to wealthy parents, but spent 17 years as a beggar, wandering the Roman Empire, spreading Christianity.
He continued his ascetic life for another 17 years, living close to his parents' house. Legend has it that even after his death, his face "shone like the sun". St. Alexius is considered the protector of beggars, travelers, paramedics, pilgrims and nannies. The people say that the "Man of God" takes care of all the poor and unhappy people and that, on that day, it is not good to drive the beggar out of the door or deny him alms because that will offend the saint.
On this day, the believers say, it is obligatory to say a prayer to St. Alexius, when it is believed that he healed all diseases and from which the myrrh-bearing oil flowed, because it is believed that these words heal and invoke a miracle.
What do Serbs express by celebrating slava ?
By celebrating the holiday, the Serbian family respects not only its saint and the Church, but also its ancestors and itself.
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