The traditional blessing of fruits and vegetables is a highlight of this annual Feast.
The Feast of the Transfiguration was held today at St. Tikhon's monastery. Archimandrite Sergius gave the traditional blessing of fruit and vegetable afterwards.
Why the blessing? "This is an ancient Christian custom. The first week of August, on the sixth of August, the farmers use to gather the early fruits of their summer harvest (grapes, figs etc.) and to present them in the Church to be blessed and to give them for free to congregation. These fruits are called the “beginnings”. In a text from the 7th century (“the laws of the kingdom” by emperor Constantine Porfirogenitos) this custom is described vividly: “The Emperor of Constantinople gathers the “beginnings” (“aparches”) in Chalcedone, where there are many vines, and then he waits for the Patriarch of Constantinople to come on the the Holiday of Transfiguration, to bless the fruits and to personally hand out the grapes to the laymen”. (Fr. Joseph Huneycutt writing in orthodixie.com)
Fr. Thomas Hopko in "Worship" adds: "The summer celebration of the feast, however, has lent itself very well to the theme of transfiguration. The blessing of grapes, as well as other fruits and vegetables on this day is the most beautiful and adequate sign of the final transfiguration of all things in Christ. It signifies the ultimate flowering and fruitfulness of all creation in the paradise of God’s unending Kingdom of Life where all will he transformed by the glory of the Lord."
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