Epiphany in Romania: traditions and superstitions

Christians in Romania celebrate one of the most important religious holidays in the country today: the Epiphany. This holiday marks the day when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.

The Epiphany is not only a religious holiday but also a special celebration associated with several traditions and superstitions.

The celebration starts on the eve of the Epiphany, on January 5, when the priests across all Orthodox churches begin to bless the waters. The holy water (agheasma in Romanian) is then given to the people on the Epiphany day, after the religious mass. The believers use the agheasma to bless their houses, goods, and animals, as it is believed that this blessed water has miraculous powers and protects them. They also drink the water every morning, usually before eating, before January 6 and January 14.

Some of the religious ceremonies usually take place near large bodies of water, such as rivers or the sea. After the priests bless the waters, they throw wood crosses into the cold water and young men go in their search. It is believed that the one who finds the cross and brings it back to shore will get purified of all sins and will have good luck the entire year.

In some of Romania’s regions, the priests also bless the horses with holy water, in a ritual called the Baptism of Horses. It is said that those who bless their horses will have a better year, with rich crops. This ritual, like many, has remained an integral part of the traditional culture in Romania, where farmers still use the animals in their daily lives.

According to some local traditions, single young girls who put a twig of basil under their pillow the night before Boboteaza will dream their future husband. Moreover, the young girls who fall on the ice on the Epiphany day will for sure get married that year.

It is also believed that, if the fruit trees are covered in frost in the morning of the Epiphany day, they will make a lot of fruits.

On this day, women are not allowed to do laundry as all the waters are blessed. Moreover, according to some local superstitions, people shouldn’t fight on this day, nor borrow things and money.

The Epiphany and Saint John’s Day, celebrated on January 7, mark the end of the winter holidays which started with Christmas Eve, on December 24.

Important religious holidays in Romania this week: the Epiphany and Saint John’s Day

Irina Popescu, irina.popescu@romania-insider.com