Christians in Romania celebrate two important religious holidays this week: the Epiphany Day (Boboteaza in Romanian) on January 6 and Saint John’s Day on January 7.
These two holidays mark the end of the winter holidays which started with Christmas Eve, on December 24.
The Epiphany Day is one of the most important religious holidays in Romania, as it marks the day when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (the Saint celebrated on January 7).
On the eve and the day of Epiphany, priests across all Orthodox churches in Romania bless the waters. On the eve of the Epiphany, the priests use the holy water (aghiasma in Romanian) to bless people’s houses.
On the day of the Epiphany, numerous people attend the mass and fill their bottles with the blessed water which is believed to have miraculous powers. They also use it to bless their homes, goods, and animals. Priests also recommend believers to drink the aghiasma every morning before eating, between January 5 and 14.
Some of the religious ceremonies organized on this day take place near large bodies of water, such as rivers or the sea, which the priests also bless. In the cities located near rivers or the sea, it is customary for the priest to throw a wooden cross into the cold water and for young men to go to search for the cross. The one who finds the cross and brings it back is said to get purified of all sins.
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.
The next day, on January 7, the Christians in Romania celebrate Saint John’s Day. Nearly 2 million Romanians bear the name of John (Ioan, Ion, Ioana, Ionela, and so on), so don’t forget to wish them a happy name day!
Irina Popescu, [email protected]