The Tradition of Blessing Fruit on the Transfiguration

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My beloved spiritual children in Christ God,

On the Holy Feast-Day of Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) on August 6th our tradition calls that the Orthodox Christian faithful bring fruits and even vegetables to be blessed on this day. The most common fruit to be blessed are grapes.

The blessing of fruits i.e., grapes, apples, etc., as well as vegetables on this day, is one very beautiful custom of our Holy Church. The practice signifies the final transfiguration of all things in Christ our Savior. "It signifies the ultimate flowering and fruitfulness of all creation in the Paradise of God's Kingdom of Life where all will be transformed by the Glory of the Lord".

This is an early Christian tradition. The first week of August, on the sixth of August, the farmers used to gather the first fruits of their summer harvest (grapes, figs, etc.) and to offer thanks to God and offer them to the Church to be blessed and then to give them to the faithful present at the Divine Liturgy as a blessing to them. These fruits are called the "beginnings".

In a text from the 7th century ("the laws of the kingdom") by Emperor Constantine Porfirogenitos this tradition is described clearly: "The Emperor of Constantinople gathers the "beginnings" ("aparches") in Chalcedon, where there are many vines, and then he waits for the Patriarch of Constantinople to come on the Holy Day of the Transfiguration of Christ, to bless the fruits and to personally hand out the grapes to the faithful.

This tradition is adhered to in various parts of Greece where they grow grapes.

Saint John Chrysostom wrote: "Plowman receives fruit from the earth not so much for his labor and diligence, as out of the goodness of God Who grows this fruit, because neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters, but God that gives the increase".

Grapes are brought to church because they are directly connected to the Holy Eucharistic Mystery (Sacraments); that is why in the prayer for the blessing of grapes the priest says, "Bless, Lord, this new fruit of the vine which reached ripeness because Thou kindly provided god weather, drops of rain and stillness. Let eating this fruit of vine makes us joyful.  And give us the honor of offering this fruit to Thee, as the gift of purging of sins, altogether with the Holy Body of Thy Christ.

In the first centuries of Christianity, the faithful brought forth to the church the fruit and crops of the new harvest: bread, wine, olive oil, incense, wax, honey, etc. Of all these offerings, only bread, wine, incense, olive oil, and wax were taken to the altar, while the rest was used for the needs of the clergy and the poor whom the church was caring for. These offerings were to express gratitude to God for all goods, but at the same time help servants of God and people in need. Until today, the consecration of bread and wine, eggs and milk and other food has been kept in the consecration of artos (bread) in the church and meals at home on Pascha. Consecration of flowers and tree branches is performed now on Palm Sunday, the days of the Holy Trinity and Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and on Sunday of the week of the Veneration of the Cross. Rice with raisins and honey are used as offering in services for the dead and remembrance repast. Prosphora is brought forth to church for proskomide (Credence) in order for the priest to perform the Offertory Service. Source: Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church)

I ask all of you to learn and appreciate the Orthodox Christian tradition and to practice them.  

With sincere agape,

+Father George