The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary or Nativity of Mary is celebrated each year on September 8 and is the 3rd celebration in honor of the mother of God. It is one of the greatest feasts of the Orthodox Church and has been celebrated since ancient times. On this day, we celebrate the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is considered to be the patroness of the lonely and abandoned people and a protector of the orphans.
Traditionally, on this day housekeepers must not sew and weave so that their children are healthy. In the morning, they knead a big loaf of bread. On the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary women bring gifts to the church - towels, aprons, socks, etc. and place them under the icon of Virgin Mary, which is laden with flowers. On this day, each newlywed woman that still does not have a child goes to a monastery or a church named after the Blessed Virgin Mary and makes a sacrificial offering.
On September 14, the Orthodox Church celebrates the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, also called Holy Cross Day. There are four different Feasts of the Cross in Orthodox Christianity– on the 3rd Sunday of the Great Lent (the Veneration of the Cross), on Good Friday, on August 1 and on September 14. Traditionally, the priests sprinkle the houses with holy water and thus bless them. According to church legend, Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, was a zealous Christian. She set off to the holy places in Palestine to look for the grave of the Lord, which was destroyed by the persecutors of Christians two centuries earlier. Her efforts were successful. The cave of the grave and three crosses were found. It was discovered which of them was the Cross of Christ when a recently deceased person was resurrected by being touched with one of them. Elena sent part of this life-giving cross to her son in Constantinople while the cross itself was put in the main Jerusalem church.
This feast is associated with the end of the summer and the beginning of the autumn agriculture season. From Holy Cross Day or Simeonov den (Simeon’s Day - September 1) the sowing of winter crops can begin. On Holy Cross Day, the seeds for sowing are blessed. In some regions the feast is called “Grape-harvest Day” because the harvest of grapes begins. Community gatherings, family and personal church services, and corban (a sacrificial offering) for wellness are organized.
As a city of Divine Wisdom, Sofia has its patron saints in the face of Sophia and her three daughters Faith, Hope and Love. They lived in the second half of the first century and the first decades of the second century in Rome. The mother – Sophia, led a prudent Christian life, filled with peace, purity, humility, and obedience to God's will and her three daughters were named after the main Christian virtues – Faith, Hope and Love.
In the years of persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire they did not renounce their faith and defended it, and thus after being tortured they were killed. Sophia spent three days at the tomb of her daughters. She prayed earnestly to the Lord and surrendered her soul to the Savior. Christians buried the holy mother with her daughters. This happened in 126 AD.
Since 777, the relics of the holy martyrs Sophia, Faith, Hope, and Love have been in Alsace, France. Present-day Sofia worships their feats and preserves their values.