Forty Saints-2023: the history and traditions of the holiday, what not to do

The Orthodox Church annually on March 22 honors the memory of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, who are also popularly called the Forty Saints or the Larks. On this day, Nikolai, Leonty, Ilya, Taras, Valery, Alexander, Athanasius, Kirill celebrate the name day.

GLOBAL HAPPENINGS tells about the origin of the holiday, its history and traditions. And also about what you can do on this day, and what is prohibited.

How did the feast of the Forty Saints come about?

The Forty Martyrs were the best warriors of the XII legion of the ancient Roman emperor Licinius. Despite the fact that the ruler was a pagan and persecuted Christians, the soldiers refused to renounce their faith. The warlord Agricola demanded that they sacrifice to many gods, and then the punishment for refusing made the soldiers stand naked in the middle of a frozen lake. Faith did not allow the men to die, then they were maimed and killed, and the remains were burned and thrown into the river.

This happened near the city of Sevastia – now Sevas, Turkey. Hence the name of the feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sevastia. In honor of them, the Orthodox Church weakens the fast, allowing on this day to eat fish and drink wine.

Bans on the Forty Saints

Despite the fact that fasting on the holiday is somewhat facilitated, meat, milk and dairy products, as well as eggs, are still banned for believers.

Also on this day, it is not recommended to engage in physical labor. Even cleaning is prohibited. As well as sewing, washing and repairing things.

Borrowing or lending money to the Forty Saints is considered inappropriate.

Traditions of the Forty Saints

The popular name of the Lark holiday comes from the traditional bird-shaped cookies that were baked on this day. It doesn’t have to be larks. It could be storks, magpies, and so on. They symbolized birds returning from warm lands after winter. Sometimes these cookies were strung on sticks and given to children and neighbors in this form. This was supposed to bring health to the poultry.

Forty Saints was also considered a divination day for unmarried girls. They performed rituals to call for spring – they broke 40 branches or torn 40 threads.

In the church on this day it was supposed to put 40 candles and beat 40 bows in gratitude to God.

At the same time relatives were invited home. It was believed that the more guests gathered at the table, the stronger and happier the family would be.

Also on this day, they performed the ceremony of trampling the ryast. Everyone went out into the field, even the old and infirm, to walk on the first green. It was believed that health would come from this. At the same time, they said: “I trample, I trample on laughter. Give, God, trample on and wait for that year.”

Signs March 22

In the old days, our ancestors predicted the weather. It was believed that what the weather would be like on the Forty Saints, that would be the next 40 days.

If the birds returning from warmer lands began to nest on the sunny side, this foreshadowed a fruitful but cold summer.

Snow for the holiday was considered until a very cold Easter week.

Precipitation and the absence of sun were regarded as a harbinger of summer without much rainfall and a warm and dry autumn.

Prayer for forty saints

Oh, holy, glorious forty martyrs of Christ, who bravely suffered in the city of Sebastia for the sake of Christ. Having passed through fire and water and having entered the rest of the Kingdom of Heaven as friends of Christ, sincerely pray to the Most Holy Trinity for the Christian race, especially for those who honor your holy memory and turn to you with faith and love in prayers.

Beg the All-Generous God for the forgiveness of our sins and the life of our correction, so that you stay in repentance and unfeigned love for each other, stand boldly at the Last Judgment of Christ and become your prayers at the right hand of the Righteous Judge.

Oh, saints of God, be our protectors from all enemies, visible and invisible, so that under the cover of your prayers we will get rid of all misfortune, evil and danger until the end of our life and thus glorify the great and worthy worship of the sovereign Trinity: the Father and the Son, and the Spirit now and forever and ever and ever.


Earlier, GLOBAL HAPPENINGS told when Ukraine will celebrate Easter in 2023 and whether there will be a day off on this day.

Source: Obozrevatel

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