|Icon of the Annunciation|
Every year, on March 25th the Orthodox Church celebrates the Annunciation of the Theotokos. OrthodoxWiki has this to say:
The Annunciation (or Evangelismos in Greek) to the Theotokos is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on March 25. Greeks also celebrate Greek Independence Day this day. This is one of only two days during Lent, the other being Palm Sunday, when fish is permitted. According to the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce to her that she would conceive and bear a son, even though she "knew no man." According to holy tradition Mary had come home to her parents when she was only fifteen when she was visited by Gabriel.It should be noted that exactly nine months later we celebrate Christmas (showing the perfection of Christ). I showed a few examples of how the Church came to the dating of Christmas in a previous blog post.
The Greek Orthodox Archdioceses of America (GOArch) website has a nice tidbit explaining the icon of this feast:
The icon of the Annunciation is one that presents the joy of the announcement of the coming of Christ. It is an icon of bright colors, depicting the Archangel Gabriel (1), who has descended from heaven, and the Virgin Mary (2), who has been chosen to be the Mother of God.Ok, that is enough plagiarizing for me, I'm pretty sure I went far beyond the fair use policy or some such thing. Does it matter that I at least linked to the site and never claimed the information as my own? I guess I'll find out. I hope y'all have a wonderful Annunciation!
The Archangel is shown with his feet spread apart as if he is running to share the good news with Mary (3). In his left hand is a staff, the symbol of a messenger. His right hand is extended toward Mary as he delivers the message and announces the blessing bestowed upon her by God (4).
2. The Virgin Mary, who was chosen to be the Mother of God (detail).
On the right side of the icon the Virgin sits on an elevated seat, indicating that as the Mother of God she is “greater in honor than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim, who without corruption gave birth to God the Word.” In her left hand she holds a spindle of scarlet yarn (5) which depicts the task she was assigned of preparing the purple and scarlet material to be used in making the veil for the Temple in Jerusalem. Her right hand is raised in a gesture of acceptance in response to Gabriel’s message (6). Her posture expresses willing cooperation with God’s plan of salvation. The three stars on her garments (7) represent that she was a Virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ.
4. The Archangel's right hand is extended towards Mary as he announces the blessing bestowed upon her [Mary] by God (detail).
At the top of the icon the segment of a circle represents the divine realm (8), from which three rays emerge. This demonstrates the action of the Holy Spirit coming upon her.
6. Mary's right hand is raised in acceptance of Gabriel's message (detail). 7. The three stars on the garments of the Theotokos represent that she was a Virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ (detail). 8. A depiction of the divine realm and the Holy Spirit coming upon the Theotokos (detail).