Bulgarians Celebrate St Jordan's Day Diving in Ice-Cold Waters

Society | January 6, 2008, Sunday // 00:00
Bulgaria: Bulgarians Celebrate St Jordan's Day Diving in Ice-Cold Waters Krassimir Nikolov, a 22-year-old student at the National Sport Academy, was the first to reach the cross, thrown into the ice-cold waters of the lake in Sofia district Druzhba on St Jordan's Day. Photo by Nadya Kotseva (Sofia Photo Agency)

In the coldest of winter, young men all over Bulgaria jumped into the waters of rivers and lakes this Sunday, 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 Voditzi (Waters).

The night before St. Jordan's Day is the last one of the "incensed" nights.

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