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Ritual of tossing Epiphany’s crucifix in the Luda Yana river at St. Jordan’s Day (January 6th)

Bulgarian orthodox tradition of tossing Epiphany’s crucifix in the ice-cold water of Luda Yana river marked St. Jordan’s Day on January 6th in Strelcha this year. This widely celebrated Christian feast day started with a festive mess dedicated to Epiphany in St. Archangel Michael’s church. From the precincts of the church started a procession that headed to the riverbank of the Luda Yana river where the ritual of sanctification of the crucifix and the waters of the river was carried out.
Ritual of tossing Epiphany’s crucifix in the Luda Yana river at St. Jordan’s Day (January 6th)

January 6th is celebrated by all Bulgarian orthodox eparchy as one of the great feasts - St. Jordan’s Day (Bogoyavlenie (God shining forth)). This day celebrates the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the holy waters of the river Jordan. It is also referred to as the Baptism of the Lord and is the third in ranking of the great feasts of the liturgical year.
According to peoples’ beliefs in the night before Epiphany the sky opens up and everyone who sees this will get from God what they wish for. It is believed that the waters then stop flowing, they are sanctified and then they acquire high powers. Ritual activities performed on St. Jordan’s day are meant to bring sanctification from the influence of evil powers in the period of transition between the old and the new year. In the eve of this feast and throughout the day the priests sanctify water which they use afterwards to sprinkle over the people for good health and success. Following the service performed inside the church the priest and the congregation go to a riverbank or to the sea shore or lake and the priest tosses the crucifix into the ice-cold waters. Young men then jump into the water and compete to collect the crucifix. It is believed that the winner will be happy and healthy throughout the year. This year in Strelcha the crucifix was first reached by a 16-year old student in the culinary class of the local high school.

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