Traditions across Europe-an eTwinning project

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, TRADITION and myth frame our response.” (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.)

The Epiphany January 11, 2009

Filed under: Old traditions,Religious traditions — ivasil @ 11:00 pm

The 6-th of January is the day the Orthodox Church celebrates the Baptizing of Christ (Boboteaza). It’s the day that ends the winter holidays that have started on Christmas Eve. On this day we recall the moment when Jesus Christ was christened in he water of Jordan.boboteaza-1
There are many beliefs and traditions about this day. For example, the Romanians hope this will be a very frosty day (and it actually is, inexplicably often), as they say that the frost and the snow  bring good luck and welfare for the whole year and for everyone.

By far, the most important tradition connected to this day is “The Blessing of the Water”, that takes place in different forms near a river, or even near a public fountain. A large number of  believers attend to this ceremony, despite the frost. If the water is frozen, people cut an ice-hole, bring a table and make an ice cross while the priest celebrates the Mass. After this, young girls and boys wearing national costumes take icons, flags and candles fom the church and go to the water, followed by priests and everybody else. They all form half a circle around the table. The priest dips the cross three times into the water and blesses the water, turning it into holy water. In some regions he then throws the cross into the river and young boys jump in and recover it. Of course it is a great honour to be the one that did it. At the end of the prayer, everybody takes home some holy water, that is said to bring good luck, cure illnesses and never go bad, no matter how long you keep it.

In the North region  there is another tradition that Liliana and her kids might know more about, since it should also exist in their area. After the Blessing, young girls and boys go on a hill and start a big fire. They all sing and dance around it in a circle. As the fire slows down, they start to jump over it and through the smoke making wishes for good luck and good health. The two elements (water and fire) are thought to help each other’s purifying strength.
All these traditions were initially conceived as ways to fight bad spirits that come on Earth as a new year begins. For us they are a symbol of the solidarity of people in our community and a melancholic sign that the winter holidays (with their smell of cinnamon and sponge cake)boboteaza-2 are coming to an end.

The kids from 6C, School 92 Bucharest


3 Responses to “The Epiphany”

  1. Kieran and Anne-Marie Says:

    Hi kids from 6c,
    We read your article on the epiphany . It was very interesting.Your traditions are a lot different from ours. For us on the 6th we celebrate the arrival of the three kings to the stable in Bethlehem.
    On the 6th of January we take down our decorations. Also in Ireland the women had the day off on the 6th and the men did all the house work. It is known as the womens Christmas or Nollaig na mBan in Irish .We always go back to school on the 7th. When the kids dive into the water on the 6th wouldn’t it be freezing cold? And when they jump over the fire wouldn’t they get burnt?
    Kieran & Anne-Marie
    5th class
    St. Brendan’s N.S.
    Kilkenny, Ireland

  2. Gina Says:

    In Italy, just like in Ireland, we celebrate the arrival of the three kings to the Jesus’ stable. Kids put the little statues of three wise kings with their gifts for Baby Jesus in the cribs just in front of the stable. Another tradition connected to this date is the arrival of the “Befana” with her bags full of presents for all good boys. Therefore In Italy it’s the chidren’s day!

  3. ivasil Says:

    Thank you all for the comments. We are glad you found our traditions interesting. So you get one more round of presents! Lucky you!
    I think the differences come from the fact that we are Orthodox.

    For Kieran and Anne-Marie: don’t worry about the ones jumping into the water or over the fire.They are not kids, they are young people. They practice before and it is not dangerous.
    Even so, you should not try it! 🙂

    Irina and kids from 6C

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