Why not go to church?
In many nations, a woman during the menstruation period is considered "unclean." In some cultures, women for the period of menstruation are generally forced to leave a home or even a settlement. Echoes of these ancient traditions are reflected in the Orthodox culture. For example, among believers, there is a perception that women cannot “go to church on“ these ”days. Why?
We offer you two interpretations of the prohibition, why it is impossible to walk the church during menstruation: the pagan and the Old Testament. We will also tell you how the modern Orthodox church treats this taboo.
Pagan roots of the ban
Slavs before the adoption of Christianity were pagans. Their beliefs and cultural traditions are largely preserved after the baptism of Russia. So, for example, we still celebrate the pagan holiday Maslenitsa. By its roots, the ban on church attendance during menstruation goes back into paganism, and at its core lies the perception of women “these days” as unclean and polluted people.
Slavic pagans of bleeding is not just afraid! In their opinion, the blood attracted unclean forces, evil spirits and demons.Those, in turn, could bring on people all sorts of misfortunes, ranging from drought and ending with wars. Therefore, a woman from which blood flows out, became a potential threat to everyone around her. It was even dangerous to touch such a woman or her clothes.
Old Testament roots of the ban
The mention of the impurity of women in critical days can be found in the Old Testament Scriptures. It also says that anyone who touches an unclean woman will acquire uncleanness by touch. Interestingly, at the dawn of Christianity among the saints, differences arose on this issue.
For example, St. Athanasius the Great, back in the year 365, said that a woman is pure at any time, because she belongs to the kind of God. Therefore, she can also attend church at any time.
In the New Testament, the concept of human "impurity" has shifted exclusively to evil thoughts and the impurity of the Soul. However, it was still forbidden to go to the temple during menstruation. This is largely due to the ban on watering the blood in the temple. After a couple of centuries ago, hygiene left much to be desired. Women did not use not only sanitary napkins, but did not even wear underwear. Therefore, on critical days, menstrual blood could simply blot the floor with blood.
Modern priests consider this prohibition an obsolete church canon. Women serving in the church work according to a schedule that does not depend on their cycle.
Moreover, any parishioner is allowed at any time before Communion. And no one will ask her if she is clean at the moment or not. However, unfortunately, adherents of the Old Testament canons are among the modern clergy.