Christians in Romania celebrate the Epiphany Day (Boboteaza in Romanian) today, January 6, one of the most important religious holidays for the Orthodox Church. This holiday marks the day when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.
On this day, priests across all Orthodox churches in Romania bless the waters. Numerous people attend the mass today and fill their bottles or other recipients with holy water (Aghiasma in Romanian), which is believed to have miraculous powers and protect them. They use this water to bless their homes, their goods and their animals.
In Bucharest, the Patriarchy prepared some 276,000 liters of holly water, placed in 23 large recipients. Holy water can be used to bless objects and people, but also to drink – the blessed water keeps its drinkable water properties for very long periods of time. Priests recommend believers to drink the aghiasma every morning before eating, between January 6 and 14, and for the rest of the year, to drink it only when their priest recommend it.
Some of the religious ceremonies take places outdoors, near a large body of water, such as a river or the sea. On this day, priests bless the rivers and the sea as well. In cities located near a river 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.
Another tradition for this holiday is to place a cross made of ice in the church yard.
According to more pagan traditions, single young girls who put a twig of basil under their pillow the night before the Epiphany Day will dream their future husband.
The Epiphany Day and Saint John’s Day, celebrated on January 7, mark the end of the winter holidays which started with Christmas Eve, on December 24.
Irina Popescu, [email protected]
(photo source: Romanian Orthodox Patriarchy)