Patron saint’s day (slava, baptismal name) represents an Orthodox rite dedicated to a chosen Christian saint to whom a family prays as their patron, protector and blessing giver. Patron saint’s day is a unique and vital element of intangible cultural heritage of the Serbian people and the Serbian Orthodox Church and, as a result, it was inscribed in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2014.
It is celebrated on March 25 according to the Julian calendar i.e. on April 7 according to the Gregorian calendar, the Annunciation Day celebrates the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary with the good news that the Son of God will be born. This happened in Nazareth, in the house of the righteous Joseph.
The Holy Apostle Luke in his Gospel (chapter I, verses 26-38) writes the following about this event:
And having come in, the angel said unto her, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!”
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner ofgreeting this was.
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
(...) Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”
And the angel departed from her.
Feast of the Annunciation is one of the feasts of the Mother of God. It is always celebrated during the Great Lent. It is a so-called “Moveable Fest”, which means that except for March 25, i.e. April 7, it may fall on another day between the Thursday of the third week and the Wednesday of the Holy Week of Great Lent.
The earliest testimony of the Annunciation Day celebration can be found in the 7th century, but sermons from the 4th century have been preserved, so it can be assumed that the holiday was celebrated earlier.
Troparion: Annunciation, tone 4:
Today is the beginning of our salvation, / the revelation of the eternal mystery! / The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin / as Gabriel announces the coming of Grace. / Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos: / Hail, O Full of Grace, / the Lord is with You!
Motif on the stamp: Feast of the Annunciation (icon, 44.2 × 27.5 × 3.2 cm, work by Zograf Longin, around 1570 – tempera on panel, gilding; Treasury of the Visoki Dečani Monastery).
Motif on the envelope: Feast of the Annunciation icon from the Dečani Monastery; cresset, letter–mold for Slava cake and Slava cake (exhibits of Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade).
Expert collaboration: Miljana Matić, PhD; curator of the Serbian Orthodox Church Museum in Belgrade.
Graphic processing: Anamari Banjac, academic painter.