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Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – day of the Christian family and youth

On November 21 the Bulgarian Orthodox Church marks the Day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple in Jerusalem, known also as the Day of Christian family and youth.
Photo: pravoslavieto.com

The earliest evidence of the celebration dedicated to this particular event dates back to the 1st century A.D. In the 7th century Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople introduced it to the Christian calendar of religious feasts, and the Roman Catholic Church first marked it under Pope Gregory XI in 1374.

The actual event related to the holiday is an important incident in the life of Virgin Mary. At the age of three, Her parents St. Joachim and St. Anne took Her to the Temple in Jerusalem for Her consecration. To the amazement of everyone present, She climbed the fifteen steps to the entrance all by Herself and stopped at the top. The Supreme Priest Zacharias welcomed the little girl Mary himself and took Her inside. From then on, She lived there spending Her days in hard prayer and labour, in preparation for Her Holy mission of becoming the Mother of the Lord’s Son. At the age of 18, She chose not to marry, but devote Herself to service of God, instead. And then, the priests, inspired by the Holy Spirit, talked Her into marrying an old relative of hers, Joseph, who respected Her vows before God, and became the patron of the Virgin Mary, and the guardian of Her baby, Jesus Christ.

According to the church calendar, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple in Jerusalem, coincides with Christmas fasting. On November 21, worshippers take the Holy Communion at the time of the Holy Liturgy, and with it new strength for spiritual crescence, and combating the omnipresent evil. The icon of three-year-old Mary mounting the steps to the Temple in Jerusalem is laid on display in all Orthodox temples, and believers pray to the Holy Virgin to protect and help them.

It is no coincidence that this particular occasion is used to mark the Day of Christian youth and families. The family churchgoing symbolizes the introduction of the child in the bosom of the Holy Christian Church and faith, considered the duty of parents. And indeed, families are the best school one can have, and also the first school to give knowledge about God and Orthodoxy, Christian virtues, essential in the survival of the Bulgarian nation through the centuries. Bulgarians tend to display their charitable character on occasions like November 21. People usually collect funds that will later go to orphanages and homes for the elderly, or will assist their disabled, and socially disadvantaged fellow countrymen.

Family has always been central to the system of values of Bulgarian people. There isn’t a single road that doesn’t begin at the door of your house, wise men say. It is at the door of the house that the Road to the Church and faith begins, as well. That is why the Bulgarian Orthodox Christians revere the Day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple in Jerusalem, November 21, so genuinely.

Compiled by the English language section

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