The Feasts tier, 18th century


The Feasts tier of the iconostasis shows major holidays of the Russian Orthodox Church. These 10 icons would be hung together in a row, in the iconostasis. The calendar year of the church feasts is centered around twelve holidays that are based on events from the lives of Christ and Mary. Often the feasts are displayed according to the chronology of the events as told in the New Testament. In some churches, the feast icons follow the church calendar.

Before Peter the Great mandated the reform of the Russian calendar in the year 1700, the Russian calendar started from the creation of the world in 5509 B.C., according to the texts of the Old Testament. The Russian New Year was September 1, with the first holiday on September 21, the Nativity of the Mother of God. Mary’s birth is not mentioned in the canonical gospels but is based on an apocryphal Gospel of James.

The winter holidays are marked by the Nativity of Christ on January 7th and the Baptism of Christ on January 19th. The late winter Presentation to the Temple is followed by the joyful spring holiday of the Annunciation. The four holidays devoted to the Resurrection of Christ are, the Entry into Jerusalem, Resurrection, Ascension, and the Holy Trinity. Finally, the late summer holiday is the Transfiguration of the Lord on August 19. Church feasts and fasts were used to mark times of life and labor.