On the 6th of January Bulgarians mark one of the most important name days in the year – St. Jordan’s day or most widely known in the Christian Orthodox world as Epiphany.
The main ritual on this day is performed early in the morning 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. Also on this the colours of the Bulgarian armed forces are traditionally consecrated by a person from the religious establishment.
In the town of Kalofer, which is about 150 km from Sofia, there is something quite unique going on St. Jordan’s day. When the priest throws the cross in the river, the men descend into the icy water and start an all-men dancing in a circle, which resembles the traditional Bulgarian horo dances. It doesn’t matter who catches the holy cross in Kalofer, because it always goes to the youngest male who dared to step into the freezing river. See how people dance in the freezing water from Dnevnik’s gallery or watch the video of this beautiful custom from Euronews below:
Traditionally the holiday marks the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus Christ and his baptism by John the Baptist. In Bulgaria the holiday holds a very special place in the cultural tradition since many people are named Jordan and it comes just several days later after New Year’s day, St. Vasil’s day and a day before the important St. Ivan’s day.