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.
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) are coming to an end.
The kids from 6C, School 92 Bucharest