Image - Yordan (Epiphany) traditional swim Image - Yordan (Epiphany) traditional swim

Epiphany (Ukrainian: Богоявлення; Bohoiavlennia). A religious feast on January 6 (OS) or January 19 (NS), popularly called Vodokhreshchi (Водохрещі, Blessing of Water) or Yordan (Йордан, Jordan River), which completes the winter (Christmas–New Year) festivities cycle. Its Christian content is permeated with old agricultural rituals of diverse origins. The Eve of Epiphany is called ‘the second Holy Eve’ or ‘Hungry Kutia’; in Podilia it is also called Shchedryi Vechir (Щедрий Вечір, Generous Eve). It calls for a more simple meal than on Christmas Eve but with kutia still as the main traditional dish. The principal ceremony of Epiphany traditionally consisted of the solemn outdoor blessing of waters, usually at a river or at a well, where a cross was erected out of blocks of ice (nowadays water is usually blessed inside the church). A procession was led to the place of ceremony. After the blessing of the water, everyone present drank the water and also took some home to be kept there for a whole year. On the second day of Epiphany (Day of Saint John the Baptist) the head of the household traditionally fed his cattle with bread, salt, and hay, which had been in the house since Christmas Eve, ‘to last them till the new bread.’ Following the feast of Epiphany, parish priests visit the parishioners’ homes and bless them with the new holy water.

  [This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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