Christian faith and superstitions do not mix. Orthodox believers do not pay any attention to black cats and women with empty buckets. However, there are many superstitions in the Orthodox religion anyway.
The majority of humans are superstitious, and believers are not an exception. The Bible teaches people not to believe in silly superstitions, but it appears that the holy book is unable to change human nature. Superstitions exist even in churches. Many Orthodox church-goers are certain that they are not supposed to put up candles with a left hand, nor can they walk between the candelabrum and the icon, not to upset God.
What is superstition? It is nothing more than an attempt to find and control an invisible “spiritual” law. It is an attempt to find a direct connection between the things that happen now and the future. If the connection is found, then a person can control the future. It appears that people find it much harder to hope for God’s will. Instead, it is much easier to know that if you come across a black cat then something bad is going to happen to you, or if you spill some salt then you are going to have a fight with someone.
The majority of Russians believe those things, even though they consider themselves true Christians. This position gives rise to strange and “refined” superstitions that one may come across in Orthodox churches.
Here is one of them. The energy atmosphere in an Orthodox temple is very strong. That is the reason why a woman is supposed to cover her head with a veil to protect herself from this energy. Men do not need to cover their heads with anything just because they are stronger – men can handle it. This is how many religious Russians explain the tradition to cover women’s head with a veil in a church. However, Paul the Apostle wrote that the rule was obligatory for married women only. A veil is directly related to family relations.
“A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man.” Man is the head, and woman is the helper. She ought to have power, that is, a veil, on her head, because of the angels. This is the reason why women should cover their heads.
Superstitions offer a great variety of simple and easy ways to get rid of sins. This path is much easier to follow rather than walking the long road of penance and spiritual rebirth. One may rub their baptismal crosses to rub away the sins. Killing a spider forgives you 40 sins. If you do not feel like killing an innocent insect, you can wash the floor in your house after funeral. This will also save you 40 sins.
Funeral is a subject of many superstitions in Russia. Some of them are funny, others are bizarre, but all of them are presented as god-fearing traditions. Here is a funny one. A deceased person has their face covered with a pancake before burial. They remove the pancake from the coffin prior to the burial and eat it afterwards, during the funeral feast. People try to make a priest eat the pancake, but they try to do it on the sly. If the priest eats the pancake, the deceased will go to heaven. If the priest finds out what he eats, then the priest may go to meet his maker during the feast too.
Another tradition does not allow burying a person with their jewelry on – the jewelry will not let the person to paradise.
If you want to get rich, take an old coin, walk around a church three times and then put the coin in the beautiful corner of your home (where the icons are kept). Strangely enough, this tradition comes from the Soviet era.
When putting up a candle, it is not recommended to melt its lower end so that it stands firmly on the candelabrum. The explanation may seem blasphemous: “Don’t burn Christ’s feet.” Here is another one. Do not turn your back to the altar – God will turn away from you otherwise.
There are many other silly rules which people invent to regulate their strange relations with God. They sincerely believe their own fiction and follow the stupid rules rather than following the commandments of Jesus Christ. One does not have to kill spiders and put pancakes on dead people’s faces to go to the Kingdom of Heaven. Faith is supposed to be pure. It does not mix with superstition.
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