Orthodox Baptism or Epiphany. Rites and signs for Epiphany
The feast of the Epiphany is one of the most significantchurch holidays, which is celebrated on January 19 on a new calendar. A particularly important celebration at Epiphany is the water service, which is performed on the eve of the feast. Once in the Russian villages, the strictest fast was observed on this day, and during the vespers the village temples were filled with so many prayers that a small room of the church could not accommodate everyone, and during the rite of the water consecration everyone tried to draw holy water as early as possible, since it was considered , that then it is holier. During the illumination of water, women were put to the church cup, where the sacrament was performed, the candles shredded with ribbons, so often the eve of the Epiphany was called "candles".
The main rites and signs for baptism are connected withholy water. After returning from the water service, each member of the family drank holy water on the throat, and then sprinkled it with the whole house, sheds and extensions, as well as all the property. Signs related to Epiphany, in the first place, concerned the life-giving power of water, which gave health and protected the house and property from evil eyes and troubles. After the ritual, water was placed in images, since the signs for Baptism are associated not only with the healing power of the water, but also with the conviction that the illuminated water does not deteriorate, and if it is frozen, a clear image of the cross will appear on the ice. It is also believed that the same sacred property is possessed by simple river and lake water, which on the eve of Baptism is saturated with special strength.
What are these signs related to Baptism? According to popular beliefs, Jesus Christ descends into the river on a festive night, so water in all the reservoirs "sway", and to see this, one must come to the river at night and wait near the ice-hole, when the wave passes, a sign that Jesus has sunk into the water. Other signs of baptism are associated with river and lake water. It was believed that washing clothes in the river, before the expiration of a week after the Epiphany, it is impossible, since all the impure water that lives in the water after the consecration runs away from it in fear, and clinging to the linen, jumps out of the water. Water, in the ice hole on the Epiphany days, was considered curative. Only, carrying her home, it was important not to turn back and say the whole way of prayers.
On Epiphany, people's signs and rituals were the mostvarious, but somehow they are all connected with water and its holy power. One of the most beautiful and unusual rituals is connected with the device on the river Jordan - a sacred font. In the ice with unusual diligence cut a hole in the form of a cross, as well as a semicircular depression, which was called a radiance, and around was a channel for the flow of water. All this was called a "cup". During the divine service, the bottom of the "chalice" broke sharply, and the water fountain that escaped from the river quickly filled the deepening-radiance, after which the cross, made in the ice, seemed to float above the water and silver shone on the surface of the ice. After this magnificent spectacle, the rite of washing with holy water began. Moreover, there was no such bathing in the ice-hole as in our days, in old Russia. As a rule, water was drunk and washed by it, however, and then there were daredevils who plunged into the ice-hole, especially since people's baptismal signs connected with water, claimed that it was impossible to catch cold swimming on that day.
There are rituals and signs for baptism, whichas it were, intertwined with pagan beliefs. One of these rituals is the sprinkling of domestic animals with holy water. All the domestic cattle are taken to the yard, attracting a delicious treat specially prepared for this day, and circling around it three circles, sprinkled with holy water. All members of the family participate in this rite. Many signs associated with the weather on this day also have a connection with pre-Christian beliefs. Divination was very common in Epiphany evenings. The girls were guessing at the betrothed. However, those who had been guessing all the holy days had to swim in the ice hole, as fortune-telling attracted an unclean force, which these days was especially strolling around.