Orthodox Romanians are celebrating the Assumption on August 15. Saint Mary or the Assumption/Dormition, known in Romanian popular tradition as the Great Saint Mary, is one of the biggest Christian holidays of the year.
In the traditional belief, the celebration used to be known as the one that split the hot months from the cold ones and which opened the marriage season that used to last until the Christmas fasting.
Romanian peasants also used to hold autumn fairs and markets on August 15, while the period between the two Marys, the Great and the Small one, was acknowledged as the best time for autumn seeding.
If the roses were blooming on the eve of Dormition, it was a sign that autumn was to be a long one.
In the Romanian countryside, men used to change their hat with the cap on August 15, as a sign that colder times are coming, while women used to go to the church and share grapes, plums, honeycombs and they also used to go the cemetery to burn incense near the graves.
On Saint Mary, girls used to wear a plant named “Navalnic” or “Limba cerbului/ Hart’s tongue” which was said to have the power of luring the lovers. Navalnic is a fern species growing especially in beech forests on hills and in the mountains.
The legend says that Navalnic used to be a handsome lad who twisted girls and women’s minds and who was turned into a plant by an old woman who wanted revenge.
The last medicinal herbs were picked up on the day of August 15.
August 15 is a day off in Romania, and public employees also have a day off on Friday, August 16.
- One cannot cut his/her hair and throw it on the scrap heat on Saint Mary.
- One shouldn’t go back as it would draw Virgin Mary’s sadness.
- People are not allowed to make the fire in the stove, as it would attract disease and bad luck.
- Bathing in any river waters defiled by deer as well as sleeping on the porch were forbidden on August 15.
On the other hand, Christian Orthodox celebrate the Virgin’ Birth or, as it is popularly known, St. Mary Minor later on, on September 8. Tradition has it that on St. Mary’s day prayers addressed by those who want a child are always listened as they never been before.