History of Ukrainian Pokrova
According to old tradition, Pokrova (lit. translated as Coverage, Protection) is celebrated 5 weeks earlier than the American holiday on October, 14. After the popular calendar, October was the last month of autumn, especially in northern areas of Ukraine. This month symbolized a transition time between autumn and winter.
The Pokrova holiday was regarded as the turning day, when the first gust of cold winter air reached the Ukrainian land. Surprisingly, but the popular observations of the old past were correct — every year October, 14 is an unusually cold day with first snow and cold wind, which may be followed by another fortnight of warmer weather, but the welcoming warm sun of autumn is gone till the next year.
The transition day from autumn to winter was regarded a Holiday of Holy God Mother and Virgin Maria. The faithful Ukrainians have always started this day in churches, and prayed: “We, Orthodox people, are celebrating the joyful holiday, holified by your, God Mother, appearance. Raising our eyes to your wonderful pure icon, we pray for your protection: Cover us with your Cover of sincerity and purity, relieve us from evil, and let Jesus, your son, our God, save our souls”.
Before Christianity, the pagans celebrated the same day with a traditional cult of memorizing their ancestors. They prayed for the soul of the dead and the happiness of their families; they praised the harvest, for mid-October was the time when the field works were over.
This was also the time of marriages in villages. The marriages season lasted till the end of November. The God’s Mother, who was also called Pokrova, was also the idol for Zaporizki Cossacks.