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The holiday of Flora and Laurus, in Russia revered as patrons of cattle, especially horses, and domestic animals, falls on August 31 (August 18, old style)

August 31 – the memory of Flora and Lavra, who have long been revered in Russia as patrons of domestic animals, especially horses. On this day, the horse festival was celebrated, the horses were not used for work, they were bathed and fed “to the fullest.” They performed prayers from deaths and for offspring of cattle.

The twins Florus and Laurus were stonecutters in Byzantium in the II-III centuries of our era. Once the pagan ruler of Illyria (now Yugoslavia) ordered them to build a temple. The temple they built, but Christian. In addition, they turned many people into their faith. For this, they were thrown into a dry well, from which, after many years, the shepherds drunk their horses, and those were healed.

August 31 Horse holiday. Celebration of Flora and Laurus According to the lives of the saints, Flor and Laurus are siblings from Byzantium who lived in the 2nd century and were engaged in stone-masonry. While learning the skill of stonecutters from Proclus and Maxim, they adopted Christian beliefs from them and were baptized. Having moved from Byzantium to Illyria (now Croatia in Yugoslavia), they contracted to build a pagan temple to the ruler Lycaon. At the end of construction, instead of the statues of the pagan gods that Lycaon intended to put in the temple, the brothers Flor and Laurus, supported by supporters, put a large marble cross in the temple (a Christian symbol of death or victory of the spirit over matter).

After that, by the order of Lycaon, the brothers were arrested and subjected to cruel tortures. The brothers were interceded by the influential local priest Mamertin, who was grateful for the preservation of his son’s vision, who was hit by a fragment of granite. The priest and his accomplices were sentenced to be burned on the square, and the brothers Flor and Laurus were thrown alive into a waterless well and covered with earth. The place of execution of the brothers was long respected by Illyrian Christians. Subsequently, their relics were found and transferred to Constantinople.

Folk traditions shifted the Christian story of the saints in their own way, using the facts from the biographies of Saints Flora and Laurus.

Many years later, the shepherds drunk their horses from this well, and those were healed. According to the oral tradition, preserved in the Novgorod land, with the discovery of the relics of the holy martyrs Flora and Lavra, the death of cattle ceased. Then began the veneration of saints as patrons of horses. This reverence may have come to Russia from the Balkans, the homeland of the brothers. It was there that the legend arose that the martyrs Flor and Laurus were taught by Archangel Michael the art of driving horses. According to the iconographic canon, the saints Flor and Laurus should be written with horses, which they patronize.

According to one of the legends, Flor and Lavr went to the villages to dig wells, thereby earning bread. Once, during work, the ground of the dug well collapsed and fell asleep to both brothers. Puddle, which began to flow out of the collapse, found in itself a miraculous power: the sickly horse of a peasant “started to get well” by drinking water from it. Other peasants followed the lead of the first one and drove their horses to the collapsed well – the result was the same. Then the men dug a well in this place and found at its bottom Flora and Laurel, whole and intact, holding iron shovels in their hands.
August 31 Horse holiday. Holiday Flora and Laurus Another legend says that the masons Flora and Laurus were among the builders of the walls of the Kiev-Pechersk Monastery. During the work, a fragment of the stone flew off and hit the eye of the only son and heir to the prince, who supervised the work. The prince ordered the brothers to be buried to the ground in a belt and kept there until the eye was healed. In the event that the eye could not be saved, the prince ordered to bury Flora and Laurus alive in the ground.

Today, with the development of horse breeding, the holiday of Flora and Lavra, forgotten in Soviet times, is being revived – the peasant “horse festival”.

Horse holidays

Russia. Serpen (August)
Horse holiday (2nd day of the 3rd Savior) August 31 – Day of Frol and Laurus, patrons of horses. The beginning of the autumn morning, there are frosts. I begged Frol and Laurus – wait for the horses of good.

Earlier on that day, horses were forbidden to work on horseback, they were fed their fill with selected oats. Led to the church and sprinkled with holy water. Then they were treated with humps of salt, bathed, their tails and manes decorated with ribbons, horse shows and horse races were organized. They did not saddle the horses, did not equip them with harness, did not offend them with whips and whistles, but exhorted them with kind and affectionate words. Then the priest endured the cross again, blessed it and again sprinkled it with holy water, and everyone who brought the horse tried to have at least one drop of holy water fall on his horse.

On this day, the horses were not used for work, no matter how important it was, they gave them rest, even at the races they saddled the horses. Until the day Flora and Laurus were not allowed to burn the brand (stigma) on young horses. Any work done by horses on the horse festival, according to the ideas of the peasants, could entail their loss. Early in the morning, the horses were fed “to the fullest” with fresh hay and oats, washed and cleaned with a groomer.

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