Honey Spas in Ukraine today
One of Ukraine’s religious holidays is celebrated on August 14 as Honey Spas, also named the First Savior, Honey Savior or the Savior of the Honey Feast. It is also the holiday Maccabeus, or honey-poppy Spas, Makoviya. Spas in Ukraine means ’savior’ and the ‘Spases’ are three folk holidays celebrated in August marking the end of summer.
Honey Spas, in Ukrainian it reads “Medovy Spas” is traditionally the time to collect the late-summer honey. This is the end of summer and you have to start storing products for winter. Our ancestors said that starting from Honey Spas bees no longer bring honey.
Makoviya is one of the most poetic and most respectful in Ukraine. On this day people bless water, flowers and poppies in the churches. Each had a bouquet of flowers, in which there are necessarily large ripe poppy heads. Such a bouquet is called "Makoviychik" or "Makoviyka" and there can also be marigolds, and asters, cloves, and cherry flowers, various grass (which are commonly called to “potions”) such as voloshky, cornflowers, mint, wormwood, yarrow.
It is common to eat honey on this day. After honey has been blessed at the church, you can eat it. People cook porridge with honey, baking pies, cakes and buns with poppy seeds and honey, making honey kvas. Honey was considered to have mystical and healing powers, which were able to overcome many diseases. People said that on Honey Spas even the beggar will taste honey.
Traditionally, it is believed that nature changes after this day: bees stop bringing honey to hives, bee-keepers cut open the hives, roses stop blooming, and cold dew appear on the grass. It signifies the summer end.
During Spases it is forbidden to quarrel, have negative emotions and grudges, instead you have to help people.
Apple Spas or the Savior of the Apple Feast Day is marked on August 19. It is a folk holiday, coinciding with the Feast of the Transfiguration. It is the most important of three Spas days. The holiday has pre-Christian origins and is associated with harvesting of ripe fruits, especially apples. Later it became an Orthodox holiday. Processions and blessings of harvests can be held on this day. People usually eat apples, apple pies, or other dishes with apples. According to the folk traditions it is a bad luck to eat apples before the Apple Spas.
The third Spas is the Nut (Bread) Savior celebrated on August 29. The Spas developed out of agrarian festivals during which the first spoils of the harvest were consecrated in honor of nature deities, in the hopes of a bountiful harvest and mild winter. Over the centuries the folk festivals became inextricably intertwined with Christian traditions. There were also times Orthodox Christians went as far as to not taste a sampling from the new crop before the First Spas feast day.