Epiphany Day is an important religious holiday in Ukraine. It is celebrated on January 19th and is often referred to as Vodokhryshchi (Blessing of Water) or Yordan (Jordan River). Epiphany Day completes the winter (Christmas–New Year) festivities cycle in Ukraine.
On the eve of Yordan (Epiphany Eve) the family sits down to another vecherya (dinner) similar to the "svyata vecherya" prepared on Christmas Eve. This night is called "Schedrij Vechir" which, loosely translated, means "bountiful night.» It calls for a more simple meal than on Christmas Eve but with kutya still as the main traditional dish.
Yordan day commemorates the baptism of Christ in the river Jordan. Unlike many other holidays that combine the traditions of folk and Church, Epiphany is a purely Christian holiday; it has come to Ukraine with Christianity. In observance of this holiday, churches offer blessed water to their congregations which is kept in a vessel in the home throughout the year. Holy water must be present in every house. The magical abilities of Holy water include conjuring of evil from the house, giving the patient recovery even from incurable diseases.
Read: Ice Sculpture Festival in Lviv
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.’ Its Christian content is permeated with old agricultural rituals of diverse origins. Following the feast of Epiphany, parish priests visit the parishioners' homes and bless them with the new holy water.
The boldest celebrants take a dip in freezing rivers, lakes or the sea. It is believed that this brings the strongest health and fortune for the whole following year.
Read: Ukrainian Fests Inherited From the World
Kyiv main Epiphany Day celebrations will take place at Hydropark near the local chapel. Visitors can plunge under the ice into Dnipro River and take some Holy water home after the blessing. Similar rituals can be obserevd in Mamayeva Sloboda complex (2, Mykhailo Dontsyo street, Kyiv), where parishioners can also attend an early morning Epiphany Mass in an old Cossak Church. Feofaniya Park complex (37, Akademika Lebedeva street, Kyiv) will be offering several ice holes cut on the lake for Epiphany plunges, comfortable changing rooms and hot sauna to warm after the dip.
Epiphany is considered to be a very honorable holiday in Ukraine. The Ukrainians believe the winter wedding season starts on Epiphany and lasts until the Great Lent. So this winter time is mostly for visiting friend and family, entertaining and various festivities.
Photo source: pinterest.com