The day of St. Atanas
January 18th is celebrated by the Orthodox church in the memory of St. Atanas, also called Immortal. He is considered the master of the winter cold, ice and snow, the clouds and winds of winter. In the winter, he controls the winds, and in the summer – St. Iliya. Both saints are as much similar (masters of common natural forces) as they are different (they are celebrated in the middle of the two opposite seasons). Thus, the day of the first saint marks the middle of winter, and the day of the second – the middle of summer.
According to beliefs, after the mid-winter day of St. Atanas, the winter starts to retreat. St. Atanas himself chases it away, standing on his horse at the top of the mountain, dressed only in a silk shirt, where he shouts “Go away winter, so that the summer may come”.
Another traditional belief is that the saint sticks his head into the soil and thus warms it. In any case, beliefs are that the day of St. Atanas marks the beginning of longer days.