Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Great Blessing of Water…..Theophany

Today the Romanian Orthodox Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany or also known in old Greek as Theophany. It marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas and the Lord's baptism by St.John in the Jordan river as well as the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove confirming the truth of His word.

On the eve of Epiphany, the villagers prepare a traditional feast similar to the Christmas Eve meal. Until the arrival of the priest to bless the home with Holy Water, or Chiraleisa, nobody touches the food but immediately after the blessing of the table some of the dishes are added to the feed of the farm animals "to be protected from disease and for good breeding".

Blessing Of Bread With The Sign Of The Cross

Bacon Rolls

 Potato Chicken Ciorba

Paprika Garlic Pork Stew
On the day of Epiphany water sanctification occurs during the liturgy as a remembrance of the Jordan river's healing waters.

The preparation of this event is very carefully selected in every community in accordance with the local and regional traditions. 

The location of the blessing is selected with the village priest, usually a larger space which is at least near a fountain, in the immediate vicinity of a river, in the household of local parishioner or in the church yard.

Holy Water
Water is brought and placed in large wooden vessels and blessed. After the consecration of Holy Water, every villager takes some to their home for blessing of the household. 
Blessing of the Water
On their way back they shout "Chiraleisa"-as they pass the fields for abundance, air purification and larger harvests and pour a little Holy Water in the fountains found on the way.

Once home , the people bless with Holy Water the barns, animals, orchard trees, house and interiors for the New Year.

Going to Get Holy Water
Christening or baptism of horses is a Romanian folk ritual hundreds of years old.

There is a belief that all horses baptized on this day with sprinkles of Holy Water by the priest, will be healthy "free of diseases and protected".

Baptism of Horses

Maramurs Horse

Dressed for Church
In Transylvania in an ancient tradition, the men named John are "baptized" the following day of January 7, in honor of St.John the Baptist.

St. John The Baptist Day

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