Romanians ended the festive season on Friday by celebrating St. John the Baptist, one of the most important Christian martyrs.
More than two million people are called John or Ion or derivations of the name in Romania.
There are specific traditions for celebrating the name in different regions.
In Transylvania, northwest Romanian, all the Ions and Ioanas, Ionels and Ionelas are carried to a river and dipped in the water, a re-enactment of him baptizing Jesus.
In Bucovina, in the north, anyone called Ion should place a decorated fir tree outside their house and throw a party.
Romanian Orthodox believers go to church and wash their faces with holy water or “aghiasma” which was blessed the day before, Epiphany.
Tradition says the water will keep you healthy all year. Believers aren’t supposed to wash clothes or clean the house on any feast day.
Some 87% of Romanians are Orthodox Christians.
St John’s Day marks the end of the festive season which began with the birth of Christ or Christmas on Dec. 25.
Orthodox Christians consider St. John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, to be the greatest of Christian saints after the Virgin Mary.
Roman-appointed King Herod had imprisoned John the Baptist because he had publicly reproved him for divorcing his first wife and unlawfully taking as second wife his niece Herodias. He then ordered him to be killed by beheading.
St John is commemorated on Jan. 7, June 24 when Catholics and Protestants celebrate his birthday and Aug. 29 when he was beheaded.
Saint John the Baptist, one of the most significant figures in the New Testament is best known for having baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.
John and Jesus were also cousins through their mothers, who were also cousins.