Epiphany traditions in Ukraine
On the night of January, 18-19 the Orthodox Church celebrates one of the most important feasts - the Epiphany or Baptism of the Lord. According to the Bible exactly on this day Jesus Christ was baptized in the waters of the Jordan River. The Holy Scriptures say that God appeared on the earth at the moment of baptism. Therefore, the feast is also called the Epiphany. We want to share with you the traditions of the day that are kept in Ukraine.
It is worth noting that many traditions on this day are connected with water. They say that on Epiphany it has a special power. Therefore, on January, 19 it is customary to say prayers while diving into a freezing river water, almost naked. Dear men, on the Epiphany day Ukrainian ladies hope to get a marriage proposal, as this is a favorable time for this.
You already know from our previous articles, that kutya is an important dish on the Orthodox Christmas holidays. On this day it is traditional to make a “hungry” kutya. It is called so because on this day you are not allowed to eat anything until the first star appears in the sky. And of course it has to be the first dish on the festive table you try.
Fortune telling has also been popular among the youth for many centuries. Here are the most interesting of divination ways.
- An unmarried girl needs to take some apples, corresponding to the number of men interested in her. She needs to cut out the initials of one man on each of the two sides of an apple. Then all the apples should be put in some pot and carefully mixed with the light off. After that the lady should start biting off a piece from each apple, choosing the most delicious. A man whose name was on the most tasty apple has the most serious intentions.
- A lady should take a basin, pour water into it and put it on a table. On paper strips of the same size she needs to write events (engagement, travel, wedding, newborn, etc.) and lay out around the pelvis at the same distance. A small ignited candle is placed into a half of a nut shell put onto the water into the middle of the pelvis. If the shell approaches to any edge with a certain event, it is believed to come true.
- Several Ukrainian girls gather in the same room bringing several rings with them. All rings have a meaning, thus have to be different: copper, silver, golden and with gemstones. Rings are piled in a container with grain and mixed thoroughly. Then in turn, each of the girls takes a handful of grain. If she gets a copper ring - her husband will be from a poor family, silver - from an average one, with a stone – the girl will marry above her, the golden one - the husband will be a rich and famous man.
If a girl comes across a ring that she brought or which she liked, this is a good sign - the implementation of the plan. And if she doesn’t get any ring, then this year changes are not waiting for her.
Epiphany in Mykolaiv
This holiday is gladly celebrated by the citizens of Mykolaiv. They gather on an embankment at the end of the main street to go into the river water just as the Christ did. They say that on Epiphany it is not possible to get sick after such a bath, no matter how cold the water is! In this video you may see how people dive in the ice-holes to follow the custom and to become healthier. Ukrainian women from Mykolaiv are also brave enough to keep this tradition! Would you like to take part in such a trial? Tell us in commentaries!
Don’t forget to ask a Ukrainian lady whether she will take part in the ritual this year. She will be pleased that you know Ukrainian Orthodox traditions. Moreover, you may ask her whether she divined and got to know your name on an apple :) You may also choose a gift for your lady on our site.