Colorful Epiphany celebrations in Romania

Foto: INQUAM/Alberto Groșescu

Romanians on Thursday celebrated Epiphany, one of the most important religious holidays in the Orthodox calendar.


The feast features a variety of Christian and folk traditions involving water and horses.

In the Orthodox Church, Epiphany celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, rather than the arrival of the Magi or three wise men which is celebrated on 6 January as Epiphany in Catholic and Protestant churches.

In Catholic Austria and parts of Germany, Epiphany was a public holiday on Thursday.

In Romania, Orthodox priests typically go from house to house with a cross and splash children, wells, and trees with holy water to chase away evil spirits.


The water which is called “aghiasma”’is said to have miraculous properties and to be able protect people from diseases, misfortune and even claims to cure infertility.

One custom in Romania and neighboring Bulgaria involves a priest throwing a cross into a river or a lake as men then leap into the icy waters to retrieve it.

The person who successfully brings it ashore receive the priest’s blessing. It is said they will be blessed with good fortune all year long.

Folk traditions

In the past, the man who successfully retrieved the cross would have gifts bestowed on him by the local governor and was honored by the community.

The day also includes al folk traditions, such as carol singing or predictions for the coming year.

Unmarried girls put basil under their pillows and custom has it that they will dream about their future husband.


Folk tradition says that if the weather is good on Epiphany, the year will be rich in bread and fish. It was a warm 14C in the capital on Thursday and mild throughout most of Romania.

According to another tradition, frost on the trees means there will be lots of fruit that year.

Epiphany is followed by Saint John the Baptist Day on Jan. 7, another major saint day.

Romania’s public holidays for 2022, a mix of religious feasts, dates of national importance



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