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On January 18 Orthodox Church honors the memory of St. Athanasius the Great

Once the Day of St. Athanasius comes, the spring is near

Photo: library

On January 18, the Orthodox Church revers the memory of St. Athanasius the Great. St. Athanasius the Great was an Egyptian theologian and man of God, Patriarch of Alexandria from 328 until 373 AD. He was the first to have popularized monasticism which originated in Egypt through Europe.

According to popular belief, St. Athanasius is a patron saint of the winter, ice and cold weather. The legend has it that on this day St. Athanasius went up into the mountains on a white horse. He took off his winter coat, put a silk shirt on and called out: “Go away winter, come summer!” It is said that from this day on the day begins to grow by one millet seed a day.

In Popular beliefs, Anthony and Athanasius are twin brothers. This is one of the principal feast days when the villagers make sacrificial offerings together- for health and prosperity.

In Bulgarian tradition, this is the day celebrated by al people named Atanas, Atanaska and their derivatives. Blacksmiths also celebrate on this day. According to the legend, St. Anthony and St. Athanasius were blacksmiths and even invented the blacksmith tongs. How this happened and why in some areas the Day of St. Anthony and the Day of St. Athanasius are called “sweet and honeyed” and what types of prohibitions people observe on these days? You can find more details in Radio Bulgaria’s article “Sweet and honeyed – the Days of St. Antony and St. Athanasius”.

Editing by: Elena Karkalanova

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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