Bulgarian Orthodox Church marks Epiphany, one of the greatest Christian feasts on January 6. This is the day on which Saint John the Baptist is believed to have baptised Jesus Christ and on which God the Son was revealed as a human being in Christ.
In Bulgaria Epiphany is also known as Bogoyavlenie (Manifestation of God), Krashtenie Gospodne (Baptism of the Lord) and Yordanovden (Day of Jordan, reference to the river Jesus Christ was baptised in).
According to folklore beliefs, the days before Epiphany are considered to be perilous and it is thought demons and bugbears roam the earth. Baptising the water renders the world a safe place to live in.
It is also believed the heaven opens on the night before the day of Epiphany and whatever one wishes will materialise.
Church masses are served and solemn processions go to the sea, to rivers, lakes or dams, where a priest throws a cross into the water. In line with the tradition, usually an odd number of young men jump and race to retrieve it. It is believed the swimmer who reaches the cross first will be very healthy and have a lot of success.
It is thought if ill people wash themselves with water from the place the cross was retrieved from will regain their health. People take holy water home and sprinkle themselves with it to be healthy and preserve it to use it as a cure throughout the year.
Many Bulgarians celebrate a name day on the feast day of Epiphany. These are people named: Yordan, Bogdan, Yordanka, Dancho, Danka, Boril, Bogomil, Bistra, Nayden, Bozhidar, Bozhidara, and others.
Source: FOCUS News Agency, Wikipedia