MINSK, 19 January (BelTA) – On 19 January Orthodox Christians celebrate Holy Epiphany, one of the The Twelve Great Feasts.
It is celebrated in the memory of the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. From the Gospel we know that John the Baptist, calling people to repentance, baptized people in the waters of the Jordan. John felt himself unworthy to baptize Jesus Christ and tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” So Jesus replied to him: “Let it happen now, for it is right for us to fulfill all righteousness”. Then John yielded to him.
It is known that during the baptism of Jesus Christ the God revealed himself to the world in three persons: Jesus the Son — Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove, God the Father testified of Jesus Christ with the voice from heaven: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" So Baptism is also called the Manifestation of God.
The feast starts in the evening of 18 January, with the Orthodox Christians celebrating Epiphany Eve. Common prayers in churches are followed by the blessing of water. The water is blessed for the second time on Epiphany Day. People believe that water acquires health-giving properties and keeps them throughout the year. The water is given to the sick and is used to bless churches and homes.
The tradition has survived to the present day to celebrate Epiphany by diving into freezing waters. Orthodox believers take a plunge into sub-zero waters to wash off their sins as part of Epiphany Day celebrations.More about Society