On December 17, Orthodox Christians commemorate Saint Barbara of Iliopol, who was baptized in defiance of her father and executed by him. In the folk calendar – Varvara Moroznitsa, Varvara’s day. In the old days, at this time, they tried not to go far from home, so as not to freeze.

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Prayer services will be held in Orthodox churches on December 17, in which the name of St. Barbara of Iliopol will be heard.

Great Martyr Barbara of Iliopol

The Great Martyr Barbara lived in the 3rd century. She was born into a noble family. Her father Dioscorus, who buried his wife early, was very attached to his daughter. Fearing unkind people, he hid Varvara in a tower that he built especially for her.

The girl, who was distinguished by her extraordinary beauty, spent a lot of time alone. Barbara thought about the pagan faith followed by her father, and how far she was from the addictions of her parent, who worshiped idols.

When the time came to give Varvara in marriage, she answered her father with a categorical refusal. Deciding that these were the consequences of seclusion, Dioscorus began to let his daughter out of the castle. But communication with friends, all of whose dreams were about marriage, had no effect. Varvara refused noble suitors, thereby causing the wrath of her father.

One day, when Dioscorus was not in Iliopolis, Barbara met women preaching the Christian faith. From them she learned about the Triune God, about Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos. At that time, a priest was passing through the city, who arrived in Iliopol disguised as a merchant.

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Upon learning of this, Varvara invited him to her parents’ house and asked him to conduct the rite of Baptism. The girl confessed to the presbyter that she decided to devote her life to serving God.

When Dioscorus found out what had happened in his absence, he rushed at his daughter with a sword. Varvara escaped from his hands and fled to the mountains, where she hid in a cave. But the girl could not be saved. She was found and brought to her father. He himself took her to the mayor, saying that he disowned his daughter, because she rejected his idols.

Varvara was tortured for a long time, beaten with ox sinews, and together with another Christian woman, they were taken naked around the city. After that, they hung up and continued the monstrous torture. The bodies of the girls were set on fire with candles, stabbed with hooks, beaten with hammers on the head. And then they were beheaded. The father dealt with Varvara with his own hands. Soon the cruel Dioscorus was struck by lightning, instantly turning his body to dust.

Folk calendar: Barbarian day

In Rus’, on December 17 (December 4, according to the old style), Barbarian Day was celebrated, which was also called “Barbarian Frosts.” At this time, the cold reached, if not its climax, then the moment when the peasants were afraid to go outside, fearing to catch a cold.

As a rule, on Varvarin’s day, blizzards were hosting everywhere, covering travelers with snow. “Varyukha is cracking – take care of your nose and ear!” – the proverb in Rus’ was well known.

Traveling at this time was feared, because it was possible to freeze on the way. Therefore, on Varvarin’s day, our ancestors sat at home. Early in the morning, the women began to cook. The food was modest, as required Christmas post. And then they started cleaning up.

The men were inspecting fishing gear, preparing for winter fishing. There was another hobby that supported peasant families: hunting. Campaigns in the forest were also not made spontaneously, they required preparation, especially in winter.

On Varvarin’s day, our ancestors were afraid to leave the house in the evenings. It was believed that at this time the evil spirits come to life, which wanders from hut to hut in search of a victim.

What to do on Barbara’s Day

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The first thing our ancestors did on Varvarin’s day was to go to church in the morning. Varvara of Iliopolskaya, as a female intercessor, representatives of the weaker half who did not have children, was asked to help them become pregnant. Those whose children were growing up turned to the Great Martyr with requests to protect their children from illnesses.

Our ancestors were convinced: since Barbarian Day, an old man with a large white beard and a staff, whose name is Santa Claus, has been walking around cities and villages. If he hits the ground with his staff, everything around him will instantly be covered with frost. If he stamps his foot, a blizzard will begin.

They knew: you can’t anger Santa Claus, but you can appease him. Any manifestation of joy the old man with a beard takes at his own expense. Therefore, on Varvarin’s Day, people specially went outside to play snowballs, go sledding, and build a snowman. And just: shout, have fun.

What not to do on Varvarin’s day

Barbarian day does not like pessimists. People who do not feed bread are not welcome – let them complain about life. This will not help the cause, but you can complicate your fate. On Barbara’s day prohibited:

  • Swearing with relatives, arguing with them, especially with your mothers-in-law. Women who dare to disobey the ban face health problems.
  • Do needlework. Sharp objects – needles, knitting needles and anything that pricks can cause severe injury. Wounds will take an incredibly long time to heal.

The main prohibition of Barbarian Day concerned men. It was believed that if at this time they begin to scold their wives, nothing good awaits them. Either the lower back will “twist”, or the joints will begin to ache, or pain in the abdomen will torment.

Barbarian’s day: folk omens

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Frosts are considered the main theme of Barbarian Day. In the old days they knew: if the wind blows from the East, the cold will come very soon. If the weather was calm and clear during the day, it will freeze in the evening. If the sunset was red, it means warming. If the cats tried to find a place on the stove – to severe frosts.

On December 17, the name day is celebrated by: Vasily, Ivan, Nikolai, Dmitry, Alexander, Gennady, Alexei, Ekaterina, Kira, Anastasia. Women born on Barbara’s day are called selfish. But a high sense of responsibility dominates personal emotions. They are considered gentle mothers, good wives. Men born on Varvarin’s day are distinguished by leadership qualities. They are accommodating, sociable, they are loved by others.

Earlier, the online publication Uchitelskaya Gazeta talked about what needs to be done in Naumov dayas well as about the traditions of the national holiday Katherine’s day. Special section UG.RU “People’s Calendar” dedicated to ancient Russian customs.