Orthodox Christians Celebrate the Epiphany

Orthodox Christians throughout the world today are celebrating the day of Epiphany in remembrance of Christ’s baptism. Every year on this day, believers line up outside the churches to get baptismal holy water and participate in ceremonies marking the occasion.

In Russia, ceremonies marking Epiphany Day took place in all Russian Orthodox Church cathedrals. In the Epiphany cathedral in Moscow, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II led a religious service and a water consecration ceremony.

As reported by the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia (ITAR-TASS), Epiphany water, which is regarded as sacred by Orthodox believers, is believed to have special favorable force. Water consecrated on Epiphany holidays is used to consecrate churches, homes and as a curative remedy and is said to remain fresh for several years. Snow and reservoir water are also said to have special force on the day. Ceremonies are also held near reservoirs where a silver cross is dipped into water.

In Russia, in accordance to the tradition established there, believers on this day, bathed in ice holes—some of which shaped in crosses—despite frosts.

In Israel, thousands of Orthodox Christian pilgrims jumped into the Jordan River, during a traditional ceremony for the blessing of the waters at the Jordan River baptismal site at Kasser el Yahud, near the West Bank town of Jericho—traditionally believed by many to be the place where Jesus Christ was baptized.

In Macedonia, believers jump into the icy water of the lake of Ohrid in an attempt to retrieve a cross thrown into the water by an Eastern Orthodox priest. It is believed that the person who is the first who grab the cross will be healthy through the New Year.

In Serbia and Montenegro's capital of Belgrade, swimmers jumped into the cold water of the lake in Ada Ciganlija in an attempt to retrieve a cross made of ice, as did Montenegrins in Podgorica who jumped into the river Moraca.

Christians have been marking the Epiphany since apostolic times.