Customs & Traditions

St. Agata’s Day and the Fire Protection Ritual

To our ancestors, St. Agata was the one that protected them from fire. Her day was February 5 and it was the day to perform the ritual to secure protection for the upcoming year.

agataAlthough today we might know St. Florian as the protector from fire but before the 18th century it was St. Agatha (in Czech Agáta or Háta). And even after the title passed to St. Florian, the fifth day of February was the day on which rituals were to be performed if one wanted to make sure their house and field would be better protected. People sprinkled a special kind of holy water (hátová voda) all over their houses and fields and baked bread from wheat, barley and bran (Agátin chlebíček). After the priest gave the bread his blessing, people fed it to the cattle. The breadcrumbs were placed in the corners of the house and field.

The holy water from this day had another power – whoever drank it wouldn’t get bit by a snake.

During the mass the flock walked around the church with pictures of St. Agata with the inscription Mentem sanctam, spontaneam, deo honorem, patriae liberationem which means something like “holy mind, continuous honor to the God, freedom to the country”. And just like the Candlemass candles these pictures protected the house from fire.

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