On September first in Crete we have again overlapping celebration dedicated to the New year of agriculture of the Virgin Mary.
On this day the fruit are blessed,the wheat and barley people attending services bring a plate of wheat to share and offer.
After service is held the seeds are blessed and the farmers can begin to seed their crops and seed last the pomegranate,it is the time of the year of the return of Persephone to the underworld and Hades,winter is close.
In September the pomegranate is bright Red, it is often set beside the icon of the Virgin Mary.
Pomegranates are placed in certain rooms of the house to protect the family to ensure a good and prosperous harvest.
In the ravine Kourtaliotiko of Saint Nikolaos the icon is decorated with flowers in his memory and celebrated by shepherds.
Saint Mamas the Saint of the shepherds depicted holding a baby lamb in Crete.
Understandably he is worshiped in areas in Crete with many flocks of sheep and their shepherds.
According to tradition this Saint did not live in towns but instead up in the mountains with shepherds in the first centuries AD.
If a shepherd has ill sheep Saint Mamas will heal the flock .
Up in the village of Anogia the family Skoula a large family set a feast all night animals are sacrificed and served to the devoted pilgrims attending.
In other areas of Crete the shepherds take their sheep to be blessed by the priest of the church dedicated to Saint Mamas, after the service the priest throws a bell to the flocks that have received their blessing the animal that is hit by the bell is a chosen lucky one and of corse the bell is placed round its neck.
7 Saint Sozon Savier
A Saint who protects like Saint Nikolas those who sale the sea, his chapels are often beside the sea and pilgrims arrive with food and wine and camp out at night during his celebrations.
8 September the birthday of the Virgin Mary
This time of the year is when the Cretans collect the walnuts Virgin Mary Kardiotisa the word walnut and heart in Greek language sound very similar.Celebrations take place in Holy Monasteries, Nunneries dedicated to the birthday of the Virgin Mary like the
Nunnery of Kera Kardiotissa Lassithi.
In this Nunnery in particular we have the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, frescos of the Byzantine period and the iron Chain of the Virgin Mary that is miraculous.The Chain one wrapped around a woman heals,helps and enables women to conceive a child.
14 -15 September Holy Cross and Saint Nikitas
The harvest has began the first wheat picked is taken to church by the farmers.
A cross out of Wheat is woven and hung in churches and homes.
Basil is also offered and used in the Greek Orthodox tradition Basil is also associated with the Holy Cross as it helped Saint Helen and Constantine discover the true cross,in Greek Basil is referred to as the flower of Christ.
So on the highest peak of Crete dedicated to the Holy Cross pilgrims clime and place a cross out of Wheat.
But in many mountain peaks of Crete in Chania and Rethymno this takes place on this day of the year.
The tiny stone chapels perched on mountain peaks after a long hike become not only a place of pilgrim but also where the night is spent.A bony rocky wind honed stone bedding under the brightest sky one can find in Crete.Food wine warmth all is shared.
The feast of Kofinas still carries the older ways of worshiping trees, the tree cult the sacred tree Militsa.
One realises it’s not an easy hike up these mountains of Crete harder for older people and little children when performing their Tama, collecting sacred leaves from the sacred Militsa Tree that grows in these parts of the island only ,ales things harder.
On this day in the Holy Monastery of Preveli the sacred Cross said to have a splinter of the true cross is celebrated.This cross helps people with eye site problems many visit to be healed.
The Saint of the sea shore
This Saint protects the Cretans from the Pirate raids that for centuries either looted the island or occupied it.
In the south of Chania the people of Sfakia celebrate with Bonfires,horse racing,dancing ,lots of food, milk and wine!
Saint Efstathios protector of Hunters and those who live in the country site.
Local Saint John of Crete that reside mainly in Western Crete .
There are two Hermits in Crete named John often these 2 overlap.
24 September The Virgin Mary of the Myrtle
The celebration of the Virgin Mary of the Myrtle was introduced to Crete by the small island of Kythira.
Again here we find the tree cult .
In the Monastery Nunnery Paliani a very old Myrtle stands in the courtyard ribbons and gifts tied to its branches,on the 24 of September the celebrations bring many to the Nunnery votive offerings are brought, gifts food is served and hopefully all those who suffer from mobility problems improve and even recover.
It is interesting witnessing the blessing of the sweet bread under the tree and the altar is an ancient capital of a column ….the tree cult is obvious here again.
Celebrations dedicated to Saint John the Theologian.
Monasteries dedicated to this Saint provide shelter and food to the pilgrims that after offering the sweet bread and attending the service spent the night there.