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Bucharest
March 6, 2021
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Romanians celebrated Epiphany

It is one of the most important holidays for both Orthodox and Catholic Christians. Priests blessed the waters throughout the country, in an ancient Christian tradition. In Bucharest, Patriarch Daniel led a special water blessing service, after which the resulting holy water was distributed to believers. 100,000 bottles with holy water were prepared in Constanta. The moment when the cross was thrown into the icy waters of the sea was the high point of the day. In the rest of the country Orthodox Christians prepared for the Epiphany. In Neamt County groups of girls and boys went from house to house in order to announce the arrival of the priest. In other counties priests went to the homes of the believers in order to bless them. Epiphany has a special significance for the inhabitants of Sopotul Vechi village in Caras Severin. The villagers prepared for Epiphany since midnight when they took buckets and went to the river outside the village where they prepared large bonfires and sang the Epiphany hymn. After midnight they washed their faces, hair and hands with water from the river. Women then took water home. They state that the water has the same power as holy water, is good for health and for protecting the home from evil. In Neamt, groups of youngsters walked throughout the village in order to announce the priest’s arrival. The tradition is called “Chiralesa,” which means “Take pity, Lord!” in Greek. On Epiphany’s Eve the believers kept a fast and the priest blessed the dishes prepared by the housewives. “Every year before the Baptism of the Lord we go out and bless the Christians’ homes, blessing them at the start of a new year,” priest Dinu Gavriloaia from the Brusturi parish stated. Parishioners also went to the pond and looked for the place where the ice was thickest, in order to cut a cross of ice there. Homes are blessed in order to drive evil away. Priests have to issue receipts for the financial contributions they receive.

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