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Orthodox Christians celebrate Epiphany

Epiphany (Theophany) is one of the biggest Christian holidays, celebrated every year on January 6 for the Catholics, and 19th – the Orthodox.

Epiphany is the holiday, which is closing the Christmas-New Year holiday cycle. It is connected with the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, during which, according to the Gospel of Matthew, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in a bodily form, as a dove. So, the name Epiphany (Theophany) comes from this. Earlier, the Coming of Christ or Christmas had been considered as Epiphany (Theophany).

The main ritual of this holiday is the consecration of water in churches. Although another ancient ritual has been preserved. It takes place at a river or a lake. A hole in the form of a large cross has to be made in the ice. Then the priest reads a prayer over the water and lowers a silver cross to the ice hole. Afterwards, a few pairs of doves are released into the air. After this, water is sanctified (considered to be holy), and people take it home in jars and bottles. It is believed that this water gives health and possesses healing properties. Hence the custom to dip into the ice-hole. But there is another custom for all those who cannot even imagine how to jump to icy water. In order to be healthy and happy during the whole year, you need to drink holy water. The surprising fact about sanctified water is that it does not get spoiled and can be stored for many years.

In addition, it is believed that the sanctified water counteracts an evil force. In order to expel evil spirits out of the house you should sprinkle all rooms (and especially the corners) and yard with holy water.