Bulgarians Mark St Jordan's Day Diving in Ice-Cold WatersSociety | January 6, 2012, Friday // 08:38| views
People perform the national dance `Horo` holding national flags in the icy waters of the river in the town of Kalofer some 150 kms from Sofia, Bulgaria, during celebrations of the Epiphany day on 06 January 2012. EPA/BGNES
In the cold of winter, young men all over Bulgaria are to jump into the waters of rivers and lakes this Friday, keeping an old tradition in commemoration of St Jordan's Day.
The main ritual is performed by a priest who throws a cross into a river or a lake for young men to catch it. It is believed that the first person that gets to the cross will enjoy good health throughout the whole year.
Since so many Bulgarians are named Yordan, Ivan or various derivatives, the holiday is very popular in the country, all the more so that it comes just days after the particularly demanding New Year celebrations and St Basil's day.
For the Western church January 6 is the Epiphany holiday, a Christian feast commemorating the revelation of Jesus to humanity, specifically the visit of the Magi.
For Orthodox Christians this is the day when John the Baptist baptized God's son Jesus Christ in the waters of the Jordan River and the Holy Spirit came to him as a white dove.
In Bulgaria the festival has different names in the different parts of the country, some of them are Krastovden (Day of the Cross) or Voditsi (Waters). The night before St. Jordan's Day is the last one of the "incensed" nights.
A solemn ceremony of consecrating Bulgaria's colors will gather statesmen, defense and municipal officials and MPs on Alexander Nevsky square in Sofia on January 6.
The religious-military ritual is believed to bring health and success to the whole nation and was first performed for Bulgaria's warriors in 917 AD.
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