Baptism of Jesus
On 19 January, Orthodox believers celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. Baptism is considered to be one of the oldest holidays in Christian culture. It is associated with the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.
The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus is closely connected with Jesus Christ’s earthly life – baptism, which was carried out in the Jordan River by prophet John the Baptist. The second name of the feast is Epiphany. This name refers to the miracle that took place at the baptism of Christ: the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended from heaven, and a voice from heaven called Jesus a son.
During the Epiphany masses and baptismal bathing in ice-holes are held all over Belarus. For this purpose special ice-holes in the form of a cross are made in the ponds. It is popularly believed that bathing in ice-hole gives purifying power for soul and body.
However, ice-hole bathing remains a voluntary event for the faithful. For the Christians during the Epiphany, the most important thing is to attend the service in the church, confess, receive Holy Communion and take the Epiphany water.
One of the main traditions is to take holy water. People come to churches with empty containers, and then the holy water is stored for the whole year. This water can be used to bless one’s home, and many people use it to heal their ailments. There is an omen that not only the water, but also the snow on this day has healing powers – you can rub your hands and face with it to regain health.
As on other church holidays, on Epiphany one should not quarrel, swear, gossip or speak evil words. On Epiphany we should not clean, sweep away rubbish or throw away food. This is considered to be bad omens and considered to be unlucky.
Washing is especially banned. At Epiphany all water has magical properties, and it is sinful to waste it on such trifles.