The history of the feast

The day of the Transfiguration of the Lord is one of twelve main Orthodox feasts. It was established in honor of incomprehensible Transfiguration of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His appearance in the Divine greatness and glory on the Mount Thabor in front of His followers and future Apostles Peter, Jacob and John. This unusual event is described by three Evangelists at once - Matthew, Mark and Luke (Мt. 17:1-6, Мk. 9:1-8, Lk. 9:28-36)..

It was the last third year of Jesus Christ's preaching and thirty third year of His life since the time He was born by the Virgin. The time of His free sufferings for the sake of salvation of all humanity was coming, Peter had already recognized Him in front of others as: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Мt. 16:16), "From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed" (Мt. 16:21). Jesus' words saddened disciplines and especially Peter, who started to rebuke God: "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you." (Мt. 16:22). Jesus Christ noticed their sorrow and He wanted to relieve them from pain, so He promised some of them to show His glory, which He would enter after His leaving: "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." (Мt. 16:28).

After six days God with His disciplines and a great number of people went from the district of Caesarea Philippi into the Galilee. It was the end of the day when He reached the Galilee Mount Thabor. He had the habit to leave the disciples at night to have some time to pray alone to God the Father. So that time Jesus Christ left people near the mountain and took with Him only Peter, Jacob and John. They went up on the top of the mountain to pray. On the top of the mountain He moved away a little bit, sat on the hill and started to pray. And when Jesus was praying His face began to shine with unusual light, His clothes became white like show and shiny. And at that moment the prophets Moses and Elijah appeared in front of Jesus and they started to tell Him about His sufferings and death. Apostles saw and heard that all, they were standing and listening with trembling, enjoying the appearance of invisible, immortal God. Everything they saw and heard so much surprised Apostles that Peter exclaimed under the influence of inspiration: "Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah" (Lk. 9:33). And at that moment the cloud appeared and from the cloud they heard the voice: This is my Son, my Chosen One" And in that moment neither Moses, nor Elijah were near Jesus. After that word Apostles get scared and fall down from the Heaven Height on the ground. Lord went closer to the disciplines, who were on the ground and said: "Stand up and don't be afraid". Apostles raised their eyes but they saw only Jesus Christ. It was dawn, so they started to go down the mountain. During their way Jesus told them not to say anything about the vision till the day of the resurrection after His suffering and death. And they were silent during all that time and they told nobody what they were honored to see.

Moses pleaded God the Father that He appear Him His Divine glory face to face. God answered him: "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." (Ex. 33:20) Apostles were honored to see the Transfiguration of God the Son from the human nature to the God's nature to tell about that the whole world.

The traditions of the feast

The day of the Transfiguration of the Lord was firstly celebrated in the Palestine in IV century; at that time the empress Elena built the Temple on the Mount Thabor in honor of this important event. In the East the testimonials about the feast are referred to the fifth century. The festal words about the Transfiguration of the Lord were written by Ephrem the Syrian, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria and others.

According to the Gospel this event happened in February, 40 days before Jesus Christ's crucifixion, but the Orthodox Church transferred its celebration on August 19 that it would not be during the Lent. And on the 40th day after the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Feast of the Cross was established.

 The Orthodox feast of the Transfiguration of Lord has another name among people- the Savior of the Apple Feast Day. At this time a lot of fruits and vegetables ripen in the gardens and grain crops are already gathered. Our forefathers before every deed prayed to God and asked Him blessing, glorified Him and thanked for the fruits. In the Old Testament it is said that the first fruits of the new crop should be brought in the altar according to the Moses Law. (Ex. 33:19)

In the old times the tradition existed to give fruits to poor and miserable. It was the measure of the Christian morality.

The Savior of the Apple Feast Day it is also the day of prayers for dead relatives. According to national belief, but not the Christian teaching, it is the third coming out of the dead to the world in the spring-summer season: (the first - Holy Thursday, the second- Green Holidays).

For the landlords, people with material way of thinking, the feast symbolizes the end of the harvest and the end of the summer. If the day is sunny and not cloudy - the autumn will be not rainy. If it is rainy - it will be wet. The clear day predict frosty and snowy winter. The weather on the Savior of the Apple Feast Day is the same as it will be on the Intercession (October 14). In some places in Ukraine at this time could be morning frost, so it was said: "the Apple Feast has come, prepare your mittens."

The Divine essence of the holiday

Transfiguration of the Lord on the Mountain Thabor is the appearance of the Son of the Almighty, before whom the Father witnesses by the voice from the light cloud of the Holy Spirit, in other words, revelation of all the hypostases of the Holy Trinity. Transfiguration shows that two natures are united in Jesus Christ - divine and human nature. During Transfiguration the divine nature of Christ did not change, but was only presented in His human nature. According to John Chrysostom, it took place, to "show us the future transfiguration of our nature and His future advent on clouds in glory with the angels", in other words, future advent on Earth in the large presence of angels that will serve Him.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah is also symbolic. According to John Chrysostom, "one is dead and another has not experience it", they appeared in order to show that "Christ has power over life and death, over heaven and earth".

In the moment of transfiguration the Lord Jesus Christ for a moment showed not only His Glory but also the glory of the Kingdom of God where he will meet the souls of apostles when they end their earth endeavor by the martyr's death. When the doors of New Jerusalem opened for apostles and they saw the glory of the Rescuer and light of the Celestial town, they felt such a sense of gladness that apostle Peter exclaimed: "Lord, it is good that we are here!" He did not find other words to express the gladness that filled his soul and souls of other apostles, witnesses of Transfiguration. On this mountain the Lord gave the disciples the feeling that He waits for them in an eternal life.

Peculiarities of its celebration in the orthodox church

Celebration of the day of Transfiguration of the Lord lasts for 9 days, within August 18-26. Festive liturgy takes place on August 19, a canon to glorify the grandeur of Transfiguration of the Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ is sung. The color of vestment of the clergy on this day is white that symbolizes uncreated divine Tabor Light. At the end of festive liturgy he fruits of new harvest - apples, vine, cereals are sanctified. Sanctifying is an expression of gratitude to God from the nature, blessed by Him.

For many baptized and, at the first glance, believing people, the majestic spiritual event turns into folk tradition - Apple Feast, although neither apples, nor grapes have relation to the feast. In the Old Testament, the fruits of the new crop were brought to the temple for sanctifying. People tried to live with God that is why different customs, which represented such a way of life, appeared. Earth brings fruits with the God's blessing and a man brings them in a temple as a thanksgiving. Therefore all the fruits which are blessed after the liturgy are unconnected with the Transfiguration of the Lord in the spiritual sense. It's merely the time of their ripening. So we should understand that to bless the fruits, and then to eat them, it is not the most important thing in this holiday, that only diminishes the truthful value of the spiritual triumph of the Church of Christ.



In the moment of Transfiguration the Lord gave an opportunity to see the combination of two natures: the shining of Divine light in the human body of Christ. According to the Christian doctrine, the shining of the Tabor light is a message to humanity about possibility of renovation of the image, after which a man was created; it is a message about the possibility of transfiguration of the human soul, of the whole humanity and the whole world.

In 2006 in Kyiv the clergy and the faithful came to a place, where grew only bushes and weeds and in three year built a majestic temple that was named after the incomprehensible Transfiguration of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ - the Temple of Transfiguration of Lord. All the people worked passionately and with the Divine help built a temple. Having built a temple with love to God, the faithful transfigured their souls. And each person, who took part in the construction of the temple can certify about the wonderful help of the Lord in this period of life, about the majestic state of the soul during the building, about spiritual growth, that came as acquisition during the work in the name of God.

"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5) By listening to God, building our life on the basis of teachings brought by Jesus Christ, we conform unto Him. Lord gives an opportunity to transfigure our soul, our heart through love to a neighbour, through the pious life, through good deeds, through mercy of the soul. And if we are sincere Christians, we try to transfigure our hearts, that Ukraine and the whole world in the future are also be transfigured. Because the world can transfigure only through the God's people who listen to His word and are being filled by His power. Amen!

The Temple of Transfiguration of the Lord in city of Kyiv, constructed by hands of the faithful