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marlo
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« on: October 03, 2008, 05:05:56 AM »

Hi,

does orthodox offer things to icons, like flowers, how about food or lit a candle in front of an icon?

also, i there some kinda icon parade?

thanks
marlo
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2008, 05:21:52 AM »

does orthodox offer things to icons, like flowers, how about food or lit a candle in front of an icon?
"Orthodox" is not a singular noun, its an adjective. I think you mean "do the Orthodox Christians offer things to icons?", and the answer is "no".
The lamps and candles lit in front of Icons, as well as kissing them, incensing them and decorating them with flowers are a mark of respect for the Person they signify- in the same way that laying a wreath of laurel leaves on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a mark of respect for the persons the tomb signifies. You surely wouldn't suggest that laying wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is idolatry would you?

also, i there some kinda icon parade?
Icons are carried in procession (not "parade").
« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 05:22:16 AM by ozgeorge » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2008, 05:40:03 AM »

thank you for replying, I do understand that its not idolatry, i'm just comparing  practice

can you please explain how the icons are displayed in procession, do you go from place to place also?
how about offering food instead of flowers to icons?



does orthodox offer things to icons, like flowers, how about food or lit a candle in front of an icon?
"Orthodox" is not a singular noun, its an adjective. I think you mean "do the Orthodox Christians offer things to icons?", and the answer is "no".
The lamps and candles lit in front of Icons, as well as kissing them, incensing them and decorating them with flowers are a mark of respect for the Person they signify- in the same way that laying a wreath of laurel leaves on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a mark of respect for the persons the tomb signifies. You surely wouldn't suggest that laying wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is idolatry would you?

also, i there some kinda icon parade?
Icons are carried in procession (not "parade").
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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2008, 06:18:36 AM »

can you please explain how the icons are displayed in procession, do you go from place to place also?
Icons are carried in procession in various ways. During the "Liti" service of vespers, the Icon of the Feast is carried through the Church in procession. During the Feast of the Triumph Orthodoxy (the first Sunday of Lent), the Icons are carried in procession around the Church to commemorate the triumph of Orthodoxy over the iconoclasm. We carry Icons in procession when we make Supplicatory Services when disaster threatens.

how about offering food instead of flowers to icons?
Again, we don't make offerings to Icons. Period. So no, we don't offer food to them. Nor do we offer food to the Saints.
The only offerings we make are to God, to Whom we offer the Bread, Water and Wine of the Eucharist and Incense. We venerate God in His Saints, but we don't make food offerings to them or their images.
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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2008, 02:04:29 PM »

I believe there are some Slavic traditions of offering food to ancestors. I could be mistaken.
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2008, 06:35:12 PM »

In the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead, food is often offered to the departed. It is placed in front of pictures of the deceased and objects that symbolize their life. This is not an Orthodox tradition, but it does have some quasi-Christian elements.
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« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2008, 06:40:46 PM »

I believe there are some Slavic traditions of offering food to ancestors. I could be mistaken.

You may well be mistaken. The only instance of food being shared in memory of the dead in Orthodox tradition is the blessing and sharing of kollyva or other food as part of a mnemosyno/panikhida (requiem) or funeral. However, this is not the same as offering food to the dead.
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2008, 12:51:57 AM »

I believe there are some Slavic traditions of offering food to ancestors. I could be mistaken.

You may well be mistaken. The only instance of food being shared in memory of the dead in Orthodox tradition is the blessing and sharing of kollyva or other food as part of a mnemosyno/panikhida (requiem) or funeral. However, this is not the same as offering food to the dead.

I am not talking about this. My priest told me about the tradition. It may not be Slavs, but there is indeed an Orthodox people who practice ancestor veneration and offer food on their grave. Whether this practice is Orthodox or not is another question.
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2008, 12:58:34 AM »

I believe there are some Slavic traditions of offering food to ancestors. I could be mistaken.

You may well be mistaken. The only instance of food being shared in memory of the dead in Orthodox tradition is the blessing and sharing of kollyva or other food as part of a mnemosyno/panikhida (requiem) or funeral. However, this is not the same as offering food to the dead.

I am not talking about this. My priest told me about the tradition. It may not be Slavs, but there is indeed an Orthodox people who practice ancestor veneration and offer food on their grave. Whether this practice is Orthodox or not is another question.
Everyone's right! Sort of...The tradition is that you celebrate pannikhidas on the graves of dead relatives, and you eat the kollyva on the grave. Oftentimes people will eat an entire meal there too, but this isn't blessed in a liturgical service exactly.  Sometimes some of the food is left on the grave, yes.

As far as other traditions of offering things to the saints, in some monasteries there is a tradition of offering bread and wine to the Mother of God before trapeza. There is a service for it and everything.

Also, the vigil oil in the lamps in front of a saint's icon is an offering to the saint, as are any candles you put before their icon.

When a church is consecrated with a saint's name, it is seen as being the property of the saint.
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« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2008, 02:05:55 AM »

St. Augustine, in book 6 of his Confessions, states that his mother used to make offerings of food and wine at the tombs of martyrs, but that when she came to Milan her bishop stopped her, partly because "the custom resembled the cult of ancestors and so was close kin to the superstitious practices of the pagans."

When I first read this, I just assumed it was a pagan practice that was carried over for a while into Christianity before being extinguished.  Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can elaborate.
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« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2008, 01:20:24 PM »

In Ukraine at Radonitsa, everyone would flock to the cemetaries with baskets of food and spend time eating at their relatives' graves. I believe they would leave food behind, and poor children would converge on the graveyards to collect candy, and adults would be found in drunken stupors on the ground here and there from the left-behind vodka they had consumed. This always used to fill the American evangelical missionaries with complete horror-once again proof that Orthodoxy is pagan.

I attended a Serbian Orthodox church for awhile before I became Orthodox, and they used to (for some reason) place coins/money above the icons (on the stands). I found this custom hard to accept, and would often inquire why they did that, but no one was ever able or willing to give me a satisfactory answer. At any rate, I have never seen the Russians/Ukrainians doing this.
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« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2008, 02:39:30 PM »

I attended a Serbian Orthodox church for awhile before I became Orthodox, and they used to (for some reason) place coins/money above the icons (on the stands). I found this custom hard to accept, and would often inquire why they did that, but no one was ever able or willing to give me a satisfactory answer. At any rate, I have never seen the Russians/Ukrainians doing this.

Perhaps that was how the community donated money to the Church based on the passage in Scripture where the widow deposited 2 coins in the Temple Treasury, prompting Christ to say that the widow has given more out of poverty than the richest person (Mark 12:41-44)
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« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2008, 02:48:21 PM »

I don't know. All I know is that at the time I thought it looked like they were offering the money to the icons. Surely they could have had a basket or something at the candle shop for the people to quietly contribute?

Another thing I remember about that church was how at the end of the service the priest would stand up at the front with a list he would read stating that so-and-so gave $100, $500,$50, or whatever. Seemed very odd to me to announce it in public like that, because I thought our giving WAS to be in secret...not some sort of competition with the names and sums announced along with parish announcements. Oh well. It was just a cultural element very foreign to me. To each their own.
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« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2008, 02:56:35 PM »

I attended a Serbian Orthodox church for awhile before I became Orthodox, and they used to (for some reason) place coins/money above the icons (on the stands). I found this custom hard to accept, and would often inquire why they did that, but no one was ever able or willing to give me a satisfactory answer. At any rate, I have never seen the Russians/Ukrainians doing this.

Funny you should mention that.  My parish priest had a family emergency last week and was out of the country, therefore, I found myself debating which church to attend for Sunday Liturgy.  I realize how lucky I am to have such a choice, because I have read on this forum that many people don't have an Orthodox church for miles of them.  I probably have 20 within a 20 minute drive - ranging from Romanian, Greek, Antiochian, Bulgarian, Coptic, OCA, Russian, and of course Ukrainian.  I attend a Ukrainian parish, and have visited most of the churches around.  This time I opted for the Serbian.

I realized that Ukrainian and Serbian have little in common, as the language goes. I could pick up words here or there, but, overall it was quite different.  However, the choir and many of the prayers were sung in Church Slavonic, which made it much easier to understand.  The priest was kind enough to use English at various points, and read the Gospel in both Serbian and English. 

It happened to be the Sunday of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  The Cross lay on the tetrapod and next to it was an icon of the Saint for whom the church is named.  I had gotten there early and was interested in watching and learning others' traditions.  Women came in and placed flowers all over the cross (which was already "decorated" with flowers") to the point that the flowers were spilling over and landing on the floor.  Next to the cross, women would put dollars up on top/under the icon.  I'd never seen this before, either.  More ladies came up and each one tucked money behind the icon.  Not sure why.  I suppose it was a donation to the church...even though the basket did make it's way around later.

I had never seen that before, and found it interesting. 
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« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2008, 02:58:14 PM »

I don't know. All I know is that at the time I thought it looked like they were offering the money to the icons. Surely they could have had a basket or something at the candle shop for the people to quietly contribute?

In pre-Christian days, one used to put a coin inside the mouth of a dead body for that coin was needed to cross the River Styx and enter Hades.

Others would place a coin on top of each eye before closing the eye.

Another thing I remember about that church was how at the end of the service the priest would stand up at the front with a list he would read stating that so-and-so gave $100, $500,$50, or whatever. Seemed very odd to me to announce it in public like that, because I thought our giving WAS to be in secret...not some sort of competition with the names and sums announced along with parish announcements. Oh well. It was just a cultural element very foreign to me. To each their own.

Many of the parish priests in the countryside were iliterate peasants who didn't know any better.  A family friend tells of a village priest in a Greek Village who always said the same Gospel reading because that was the only reading He memorized because He was iliterate.  Education in those days was based on memorization and repetitive practice and not much else.
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« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2008, 05:00:20 PM »

Yes it is important to distinguish between an offering to a saint vs. an icon. Such offerings to Christ, the Mother, or saints include - as people have outlined - flowers, incense, prayers, vigil lamps. One might also consider tending to one's icon corner as an offering, such as keeping it tidy, changing linens that the altar might be sitting upon, or whatever. Other items such as holy water, oil, relics, bells, etc. could be considered as offerings but probably moreso as supplements in daily prayers.

There are also a few, less known, perhaps 'folk' traditions in Orthodoxy that elaborate on offerings to saints.

One is the offering of tamata or small metal plaques with a particular depiction on it corresponding to the supplicants intention. This is a Greek phenomenon, I believe. I have seen something like this in Greek monasteries where a particular icon, perhaps of the Mother of God, will have a string of jewelery or cross in front of it. This may or may not be the same thing.

I have also heard of one instance of offering food (aside from keeping something like antidoron, received at Liturgy, in your icon corner; although this couldn't really be considered an offering in the strictest sense). Again, it's debatable whether or not this is just some folk tradition or a carry over from Greek paganism. I found this article online of tamatas which mentions briefly the offering of food:

Quote
Which saint? My grandmother chooses her saints from dreams. When my uncle was ill, she had a dream to hang a tama, offer some koulourakia (round coffee biscuits) and light a candle at the Panagia church near her home on the  island  of  Andros . Lo and behold, my uncle recovered from his cold after a week. She has sent biscuits and money to this church once a year ever since.

If you want to do this, the procedure is simple. Buy a tama, hang it, light a candle, and if you wish, any offerings will be gladly accepted by the church.
http://www.athensguide.com/journalists/articles/tamata.htm

I don't personally see too much of a problem in placing a particular item of food in one's icon corner, as signifying an act of sacrifice for X-holy individual - unless it begins to devolve into some neo-Dionysian cult.
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« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2008, 05:19:57 PM »

We do not make offerings to the eikon(ai) ,but to the person(s)which represent.
It's acceptble to offer foods,pecuniae,jewelries,and any other precious materials before the eikon(ai).
The practise of pouring red wine over the grave is extreme ancient .It can be considered as a real offering(not like the food which we bring to the tomb always be consumed at a later time).Yes,it's pre-christian,and is still an important part of sinic confucian rite(澆奠、奠酒、獻爵禮),but at least in the christian east such doing is well accepted(the ban of this practice in Mediolanum was unwonted).
Till today,as far as I know,in Makedonia,Thrake,Skopia,many place of Serbia and Bulgaria,when priest read trisagion over the grave,people offer red wine ,and then priest pour it over the tomb in cross-form.
Other liturgical relic of this practise(pour wine over the tomb of Holy Martyrs)is kept in the service of consecration of an Agia Trapeza.The archiereys pours wine over it since it's tomb of martyr(s).

And it's customary in China to bring various food(maigre only)for paraklesis,parastas,panichis,mnimosino,trisagion(even in the case of a reader service),such food be called"供品/供养/供物”——prosfora/offerings.No one thinks it's a problematic or doubtful practise dagmatically.
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« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2008, 06:40:59 PM »

We do not make offerings to the eikon(ai), but to the person(s) which they represent.  It's acceptable to offer foods, pecuniae, jewelries, and any other precious materials before the eikon(ai).

I was under the impression that offering food to saints is most certainly not acceptable.  It does not matter that you understand that the food is not offered to the icon itself; any person would understand that.  The saints are worthy of esteem and remembrance, and they wish to hear our "prayer requests" for intercession, but they do not want our food.  Their bodies are still in the ground awaiting resurrection, so they are probably not hungry amidst the choirs of angels.
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« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2008, 10:23:19 PM »

We do not make offerings to the eikon(ai), but to the person(s) which they represent.  It's acceptable to offer foods, pecuniae, jewelries, and any other precious materials before the eikon(ai).

I was under the impression that offering food to saints is most certainly not acceptable.  It does not matter that you understand that the food is not offered to the icon itself; any person would understand that.  The saints are worthy of esteem and remembrance, and they wish to hear our "prayer requests" for intercession, but they do not want our food.  Their bodies are still in the ground awaiting resurrection, so they are probably not hungry amidst the choirs of angels.

Simple faith doesn't always takes these things so literally. Gifts are offered in thanksgiving to the images of the saints, according to the believer's own heart. I don't think the saints would snub their sincerity.
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« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2008, 10:37:13 PM »

Simple faith doesn't always takes these things so literally. Gifts are offered in thanksgiving to the images of the saints, according to the believer's own heart. I don't think the saints would snub their sincerity.

So you are saying that in this situation there is no orthopraxy?  I just think that offering food before an image along with incense is just 100% pure Roman paganism without any qualms.
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« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2008, 11:09:28 PM »

Simple faith doesn't always takes these things so literally. Gifts are offered in thanksgiving to the images of the saints, according to the believer's own heart. I don't think the saints would snub their sincerity.

So you are saying that in this situation there is no orthopraxy?  I just think that offering food before an image along with incense is just 100% pure Roman paganism without any qualms.

You are familiar with the Church baptizing pagan cultural traditions, are you not?

On a personal note, you should be more careful in discerning a practice of believers in the Church that outdates you. Take a minute to understand the faith at the grassroots, or before you know it you'll be tossing out undeserved accusations to your brothers and sisters in Christ in misplaced zeal and end up hurting more than you help (yourself most of all).

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« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2008, 01:51:41 AM »

You are familiar with the Church baptizing pagan cultural traditions, are you not?

On a personal note, you should be more careful in discerning a practice of believers in the Church that outdates you. Take a minute to understand the faith at the grassroots, or before you know it you'll be tossing out undeserved accusations to your brothers and sisters in Christ in misplaced zeal and end up hurting more than you help (yourself most of all).

I have been studying and participating in Orthodoxy for some time and I have yet to encounter anything at all about offering food to saints.  I'll drop it, but perhaps you should ask your bishop or priest how they feel about food offerings to the saints.  They might not be as supportive as you seem to think.
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« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2008, 02:14:51 PM »

Quote
I was under the impression that offering food to saints is most certainly not acceptable.  It does not matter that you understand that the food is not offered to the icon itself; any person would understand that.  The saints are worthy of esteem and remembrance, and they wish to hear our "prayer requests" for intercession, but they do not want our food.  Their bodies are still in the ground awaiting resurrection, so they are probably not hungry amidst the choirs of angels.

Symphona with your logic,we should not make any material offering.

We should not offer beewax candle and vigil lamp since saints have no need of physical illumination for their eyes(even you can say before the final anastasis they have no living physical eyes).

We should not offer them incense since it's no such need for saints' physical olfaction.

We should not offer them anthos and herbs,no such need for saints' physical joviality.

We should not offer them hymns(troparia,akathistoi,paraklesis and so on),it's no need for their physical hearing..............

So maybe it's better to be protestant?

If we believe that our saints can smell our incense,see our candle-light ,hear our hymns in a mystical way(not pure 'physical')way ,then why we should reject the fact that despite our saints have no physical need of foods neither they consume them bodily,but they still share all agatha dora we offered,when we eat those eulogimena dora,the saints convive with us and happy with us,and through those foods we received blessing and charis of saints——essentially the increate energy of Panagion Pneuma.

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« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2008, 03:03:20 PM »

You are familiar with the Church baptizing pagan cultural traditions, are you not?

On a personal note, you should be more careful in discerning a practice of believers in the Church that outdates you. Take a minute to understand the faith at the grassroots, or before you know it you'll be tossing out undeserved accusations to your brothers and sisters in Christ in misplaced zeal and end up hurting more than you help (yourself most of all).

I have been studying and participating in Orthodoxy for some time and I have yet to encounter anything at all about offering food to saints.  I'll drop it, but perhaps you should ask your bishop or priest how they feel about food offerings to the saints.  They might not be as supportive as you seem to think.

You could have a lifetime of Orthodox practice under your belt, and still not experiencing everything. That's because the Faith is organic, and in folk Orthodoxy there will always be real people getting in the way of someone's conception of a monolithic, strictly by-the-book Church.
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« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2008, 03:11:45 PM »

You could have a lifetime of Orthodox practice under your belt, and still not experiencing everything. That's because the Faith is organic, and in folk Orthodoxy there will always be real people getting in the way of someone's conception of a monolithic, strictly by-the-book Church.

I hope that was not meant to imply that I only care about being "by the book."  I understand that you can mystically reason that we are in full communion with the saints, and as such a shared meal or food offering would be entirely appropriate.

I should not have made such a bold claim about what is or is not Orthodox.  Forgive me for my arrogance.  I am still learning.  But if anyone could please help me look at this as it is seen by the Church throughout different times and periods, I would appreciate it.
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« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2008, 05:30:22 AM »

We do not make offerings to the eikon(ai), but to the person(s) which they represent.  It's acceptable to offer foods, pecuniae, jewelries, and any other precious materials before the eikon(ai).

I was under the impression that offering food to saints is most certainly not acceptable.  It does not matter that you understand that the food is not offered to the icon itself; any person would understand that.  The saints are worthy of esteem and remembrance, and they wish to hear our "prayer requests" for intercession, but they do not want our food.  Their bodies are still in the ground awaiting resurrection, so they are probably not hungry amidst the choirs of angels.

This is a very literal, perhaps pagan, way of looking at offerings to God, the Theotokos and the saints. In Ancient Mesopotamian and Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cults, food sacrifices were offered so that the gods would have the needed sustenance - i.e., they lived on these sacrifices.

Saying that a food offering to the saints is with the intent of "feeding" them is rather unusual, especially if we're all vouching for "orthopraxy" here  Tongue. Literally speaking, we don't offer incense so God can always have something "nice" to smell; nor do we light candles so God or the saints can see, sing so they may hear the chants, etc. These are conceptualizations temporally bound. But I'm not disagreeing with Elpidophoros here. I believe on a separate plane of existence, we are "feeding" them, "illuminating" their way, "censing" so they may smell the prayers - a plane where all these categories and their meanings are transfigured in accordance with their own transfigured and glorified states - its a composite system. Feeding is feeding; is not feeding; is both/neither feeding or non-feeding. (Thanks Dionysius!)

Orthodoxy is holistic, but also trans-holistic. Food offerings only adds to this pattern of beautiful and mystical devotion.
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« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2008, 08:36:59 AM »

We do not make offerings to the eikon(ai), but to the person(s) which they represent.  It's acceptable to offer foods, pecuniae, jewelries, and any other precious materials before the eikon(ai).

I was under the impression that offering food to saints is most certainly not acceptable.  It does not matter that you understand that the food is not offered to the icon itself; any person would understand that.  The saints are worthy of esteem and remembrance, and they wish to hear our "prayer requests" for intercession, but they do not want our food.  Their bodies are still in the ground awaiting resurrection, so they are probably not hungry amidst the choirs of angels.

This is a very literal, perhaps pagan, way of looking at offerings to God, the Theotokos and the saints. In Ancient Mesopotamian and Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cults, food sacrifices were offered so that the gods would have the needed sustenance - i.e., they lived on these sacrifices.

Saying that a food offering to the saints is with the intent of "feeding" them is rather unusual, especially if we're all vouching for "orthopraxy" here  Tongue. Literally speaking, we don't offer incense so God can always have something "nice" to smell; nor do we light candles so God or the saints can see, sing so they may hear the chants, etc. These are conceptualizations temporally bound. But I'm not disagreeing with Elpidophoros here. I believe on a separate plane of existence, we are "feeding" them, "illuminating" their way, "censing" so they may smell the prayers - a plane where all these categories and their meanings are transfigured in accordance with their own transfigured and glorified states - its a composite system. Feeding is feeding; is not feeding; is both/neither feeding or non-feeding. (Thanks Dionysius!)

Orthodoxy is holistic, but also trans-holistic. Food offerings only adds to this pattern of beautiful and mystical devotion.

Thanatos, is that the San Francisco cathedral?

My problem with offering food to saints is what happens to it, as they obviously don't eat (or need to eat) it.  If given/left to the poor that's one thing.  If it is wasted (remember what Christ had the disciples do after the multiplication of loaves?), that's another.
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« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2008, 09:24:21 AM »

Not judging, and attempting to understand the intention of Orthodox folk practices is a good thing to do, so that we don't bring judgment on ourselves for judging others, so we can be culturally sensitive and so we can be respectful of others traditions.

But we should not glory in many of these practices that strike us as curious at best and debatable at worst. Most of us posting here live in English speaking Western nations (despite its geography our friends down under are included in this). Orthodoxy needs to become organic to the cultures WE live in in the 21st Century. We have enough jurisdictional and ethnic issues to deal with without preserving folk customs that many of our grandparents have forgotten.

Time to quit partying like its EIGHTEEN-99!
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« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2008, 11:02:41 AM »

In the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead, food is often offered to the departed. It is placed in front of pictures of the deceased and objects that symbolize their life. This is not an Orthodox tradition, but it does have some quasi-Christian elements.

In Egypt on Bright Monday (Shamm al-Nasim, "Smelling the Breeze") many Egyptians picnic in their family graveyards.
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« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2008, 04:20:01 PM »

We do not make offerings to the eikon(ai), but to the person(s) which they represent.  It's acceptable to offer foods, pecuniae, jewelries, and any other precious materials before the eikon(ai).

I was under the impression that offering food to saints is most certainly not acceptable.  It does not matter that you understand that the food is not offered to the icon itself; any person would understand that.  The saints are worthy of esteem and remembrance, and they wish to hear our "prayer requests" for intercession, but they do not want our food.  Their bodies are still in the ground awaiting resurrection, so they are probably not hungry amidst the choirs of angels.

This is a very literal, perhaps pagan, way of looking at offerings to God, the Theotokos and the saints. In Ancient Mesopotamian and Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cults, food sacrifices were offered so that the gods would have the needed sustenance - i.e., they lived on these sacrifices.

Saying that a food offering to the saints is with the intent of "feeding" them is rather unusual, especially if we're all vouching for "orthopraxy" here  Tongue. Literally speaking, we don't offer incense so God can always have something "nice" to smell; nor do we light candles so God or the saints can see, sing so they may hear the chants, etc. These are conceptualizations temporally bound. But I'm not disagreeing with Elpidophoros here. I believe on a separate plane of existence, we are "feeding" them, "illuminating" their way, "censing" so they may smell the prayers - a plane where all these categories and their meanings are transfigured in accordance with their own transfigured and glorified states - its a composite system. Feeding is feeding; is not feeding; is both/neither feeding or non-feeding. (Thanks Dionysius!)

Orthodoxy is holistic, but also trans-holistic. Food offerings only adds to this pattern of beautiful and mystical devotion.

Thanatos, is that the San Francisco cathedral?

My problem with offering food to saints is what happens to it, as they obviously don't eat (or need to eat) it.  If given/left to the poor that's one thing.  If it is wasted (remember what Christ had the disciples do after the multiplication of loaves?), that's another.

Yes it's the San Francisco cathedral. I suggest you pay it a visit if you haven't already  Tongue. Such a blessing to go there.

You bring up an interesting issue of what to do with food once it is offered. I would suggest eating it or maybe distributing out to the family, friends, the poor, etc. This is what we (essentially) do with the main liturgical "offering" (Prosphora). I would almost see it as an extension or mimicking of the Agape meal.
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« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2008, 09:56:15 PM »

So can somebody please clarify?  Is offering food before icons quite common in many Orthodox homes, and do any of the churches have any canons regarding the practice?

Again, not judging anymore, just trying to learn.  Please forgive my previous arrogance...
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« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2008, 10:02:16 PM »

Is offering food before icons quite common in many Orthodox homes,
No. Icons are incensed and a lamp is lit before them, but food is not offered.
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« Reply #32 on: November 29, 2008, 11:54:32 PM »

We do not make offerings to the eikon(ai), but to the person(s) which they represent.  It's acceptable to offer foods, pecuniae, jewelries, and any other precious materials before the eikon(ai).

I was under the impression that offering food to saints is most certainly not acceptable.  It does not matter that you understand that the food is not offered to the icon itself; any person would understand that.  The saints are worthy of esteem and remembrance, and they wish to hear our "prayer requests" for intercession, but they do not want our food.  Their bodies are still in the ground awaiting resurrection, so they are probably not hungry amidst the choirs of angels.

This is a very literal, perhaps pagan, way of looking at offerings to God, the Theotokos and the saints. In Ancient Mesopotamian and Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cults, food sacrifices were offered so that the gods would have the needed sustenance - i.e., they lived on these sacrifices.

Saying that a food offering to the saints is with the intent of "feeding" them is rather unusual, especially if we're all vouching for "orthopraxy" here  Tongue. Literally speaking, we don't offer incense so God can always have something "nice" to smell; nor do we light candles so God or the saints can see, sing so they may hear the chants, etc. These are conceptualizations temporally bound. But I'm not disagreeing with Elpidophoros here. I believe on a separate plane of existence, we are "feeding" them, "illuminating" their way, "censing" so they may smell the prayers - a plane where all these categories and their meanings are transfigured in accordance with their own transfigured and glorified states - its a composite system. Feeding is feeding; is not feeding; is both/neither feeding or non-feeding. (Thanks Dionysius!)

Orthodoxy is holistic, but also trans-holistic. Food offerings only adds to this pattern of beautiful and mystical devotion.

Thanatos, is that the San Francisco cathedral?

My problem with offering food to saints is what happens to it, as they obviously don't eat (or need to eat) it.  If given/left to the poor that's one thing.  If it is wasted (remember what Christ had the disciples do after the multiplication of loaves?), that's another.

Yes it's the San Francisco cathedral. I suggest you pay it a visit if you haven't already  Tongue. Such a blessing to go there.

Yes, it is: we went during Dormition.  My sons had never seen an incorrupt before.
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« Reply #33 on: December 01, 2008, 08:07:13 AM »

In the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead, food is often offered to the departed. It is placed in front of pictures of the deceased and objects that symbolize their life. This is not an Orthodox tradition, but it does have some quasi-Christian elements.

In Egypt on Bright Monday (Shamm al-Nasim, "Smelling the Breeze") many Egyptians picnic in their family graveyards.
Hmm. Interesting. How fitting after celebrating the Resurrection.
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« Reply #34 on: March 27, 2009, 02:33:20 PM »

We do not make offerings to the eikon(ai) ,but to the person(s)which represent.
It's acceptble to offer foods,pecuniae,jewelries,and any other precious materials before the eikon(ai).
The practise of pouring red wine over the grave is extreme ancient .It can be considered as a real offering(not like the food which we bring to the tomb always be consumed at a later time).Yes,it's pre-christian,and is still an important part of sinic confucian rite(澆奠、奠酒、獻爵禮),but at least in the christian east such doing is well accepted(the ban of this practice in Mediolanum was unwonted).
Till today,as far as I know,in Makedonia,Thrake,Skopia,many place of Serbia and Bulgaria,when priest read trisagion over the grave,people offer red wine ,and then priest pour it over the tomb in cross-form.
Other liturgical relic of this practise(pour wine over the tomb of Holy Martyrs)is kept in the service of consecration of an Agia Trapeza.The archiereys pours wine over it since it's tomb of martyr(s).

And it's customary in China to bring various food(maigre only)for paraklesis,parastas,panichis,mnimosino,trisagion(even in the case of a reader service),such food be called"供品/供养/供物”——prosfora/offerings.No one thinks it's a problematic or doubtful practise dagmatically.


I saw this posting.  Really appreciate the openness and knowledge.  I want to ask something important related to this.
We use the Bible.  If these practices we agree and teach others to follow there will be number of practices we have to consider as christian practices.  why don't such practices are not mentioned by the apostles or the early church?

As a person from India we are struggling with the local practices like this.  So people like you must stand against and tell others that these practices are not biblical or Christian but only regional customs so we must try to avoid.

lovingly
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« Reply #35 on: March 28, 2009, 01:22:18 PM »

In Egypt on Bright Monday (Shamm al-Nasim, "Smelling the Breeze") many Egyptians picnic in their family graveyards.
Wow, a similar tradition is practiced here in Greece in N. Greece (Macedonia & Thrace) by the Pontic Greeks on st. Thomas Sunday. The family members are gathered around the grave(s) of their kin and eat. In Komotini this takes place on Pentecost Monday (Monday of the Holy Spirit) too
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