The Apple Feast of the Saviour, the second of the three Feasts of Savior, celebrates the ripening and harvesting of fruits, especially of apples. The festival is celebrated on August 19, every year. This widely celebrated festival even gets the people to call for a holiday.
The East Slaves observe three Feasts of Saviour. The first one is the Honey Feast, celebrated on August 14, the second one, as mentioned, is the Apple Feast which is celebrated on August 19 and the third of all being the Nut Feast of the Saviour which is commemorated on August 29. These feasts are basically the Eastern Slavic regional names for the Feast of the Transfiguration, which is celebrated in honor of the transfiguration of Lord Jesus. The original tradition was to celebrate the harvest of grapes, back during the time of the Byzantine Empire. The East Slaves of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus adopted the culture as one being for apples as they are more common in there.
This day is celebrated by eating apples or dishes made with apples such as apple pies, apple custard, apple juice and many more. Even the ones who are not orthodox Christians commemorate and bless the harvest of apples and have food made from them. From this day onward, people are allowed to eat the fruit. Baskets called the “harvest baskets” are prepared with the newly harvested apples which are brought to churches, for being distributed among the ill and poor people of all age.
Women, especially the ones who lost their children, had to abide by the ‘apple-eating’ rule very strictly. The belief was that children in their afterlives would have presents which would include the apples — those parents who would eat the fruit before this day bereave their children from this gift. Along with the apples, other fruits such as grapes, pears, plums and even vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes were put in the baskets. The leftovers are not thrown but are either fed to cattle or buried underground. It also contained honey, wheat, and other cereals. Money, other valuable materials and alcohols are not to be put in there. The baskets are decorated with ribbons of different kind and color.
“What is wished – will come true, what comes true – will not pass” is what people wish before the first bite of the apple.