St Cyril and St Methodius 2017 and 2018
St Cyril and St Methodius Day in the Czech Republic celebrates two Greek brothers who brought Christianity to the Great Moravian Empire.
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They are also credited with the creation of the liturgical Slavonic language and alphabet known as the Glagolitic alphabet, using the language to translate the Bible. The holiday is celebrated on July 5 each year and is considered a national holiday.
History of the Holiday
The “Day of Holy Brothers” was celebrated as early as the 11th century and has been celebrated in nations evangelised by the brothers for centuries. In the Czech Republic, the holiday was originally celebrated on March 9, but the date was changed by Pope Pius IX to July 5. The brothers are revered in the Czech Republic as national saints and the day is celebrated as Slavic Missionaries Cyril and Methodius Day.
Traditions and Celebrations
Schools, offices and businesses are closed on Slavic Missionaries Cyril and Methodius Day in the Czech Republic. Many take the day to reflect on the evangelical works of the brothers designed to spread the word of Christianity. Prayer services and church events are planned in order to pay homage to the two brothers, who both are named saints, for their contributions to the country.
Creation of Language
Although the holiday is designed to celebrate the arrival of Christianity in Slavic nations, the two brothers are also credited with the creation of the Glagolitic language. The brothers created the language in order to translate the Bible and other religious works. It is the precursor to the Cyrillic alphabet which is used exclusively as an alphabet for more than 50 languages and is named after Cyril. It is believed that students of St. Cyril created the Cyrillic alphabet to replace the Glagolitic, naming it after their teacher in his honour. There is also speculation that Glagolitic was derived from ancient Greek scripts while Cyrillic was derived from Byzantine Greek used in manuscripts. It is possible that Cyril’s students found Glagolitic unsuitable for ecclesiastical use and designed Cyrillic from a script already used for religious purposes. The Glagolitic alphabet continued to be used until around the 12th century before it disappeared from writings. In Croatia, however, it continued to be used until the 19th century for religious purposes, although the version used there has less letters and the shape of the letters more of a rectangle.