Epiphany: history, traditions and fortunetelling

Source : 112 Ukraine

Holy water is considered to cure illness on this day
10:49, 19 January 2019

Ukraine celebrates Epiphany
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Epiphany is one of the most important holidays for Orthodox and Greek Catholic Christians, which is celebrated on January 19. The holiday also closes Christmas holidays. This Christian holiday honors Jesus Christ in the river of Jordan. The water is considered to be sacred on this day. It is unique and it cures severe diseases.

The history of the fest

According to Evangeline John the Baptist encouraged people to baptize in the Jordan River in order to confess their sins. Despite of the fact that Jesus had no sins, and he did not need to be baptized, nevertheless he wanted to be baptized, and this process from that time is considered to be a sacred one.

Related: Six facts you should know about Epiphany

When the Savior came out of the water, heaven opened above him, then he heard the voice of God the Father, who called Jesus his son and the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a pigeon.

Traditions on Epiphany

A day before the feast, on January 19, believers keep fasting – they eat nothing till evening, and in the evening they cook some Lenten dishes or meatless ones: dumplings with cabbage, fried fish, buckwheat pancakes, Kutia, ceremonial grain dish with sweet gravy, and the traditional dried fruit drink, called uzvar.

In some western regions of Ukraine on the Epiphany Eve people also put in the corner of the table so called diduch, which is a Ukrainian Christmas decoration made from a sheaf of wheat. It is a symbolic sacrifice taken from the best of the autumn harvest. "Didukh" literally means "the spirit of ancestors".

Related: How Ukrainians swam in ice-holes on Epiphany day

Water sanctifying – is one of the main traditions on Epiphany. The water is considered to be sacred. People believe that the holy water cures severe diseases. They also sanctify their houses, pets etc. with this water. Bathing in an icy-hole is one of the most popular traditions on this day as well.  

In many cities, town and villages across the country priests sanctify water while believers bathe in the icy water. After the church service ends, the solemn processions to the holes take place. After the water is sanctified, people bathe in icy-holes. While bathing a Christian crosses himself and says: “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

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Fortunetelling on Epiphany

There’s a folk custom to fortune tell on Epiphany (though any fortune telling is prohibited by the church), which is a relic of the pagan culture.

It is believed that on this evening a girl should go home outside alone. If she meets first a young and handsome man on the way, it is highly likely that this year she will get married. If the man is old, then she will be single for the next year.

Related: Ukrainians mark the Epiphany

You can also find out your future for the current year. To do this you need to take six identical vessels with water, then add salt, sugar, a piece of bread, a coin, a ring and a match. After that you need to select one vessel without watching, its content will predict your future. So if you pick salt, it is for tears. Sugar promises sweet life; bread is a symbol of life; a coin – for the money; ring means marriage and a match – a child.

At the same time, on January 19, it is strictly forbidden to fortune tell, because you can change your destiny for the worst.


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