• Irena Madzarovska

Epiphany, a cross and an ice cold lake

Updated: May 8, 2020

Lake Prespa - Lakeview Hotel, Oteshevo

Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar celebrate Vodici (Epiphany) on 19 January, the day when Christ was bapitised by St John in the River Jordan. The day represents spiritual birth and the beginning of the human life in faith.

People celebrate this day with great joy throughout the Orthodox world, but especially interesting are the local traditions near the sea, lakes or rivers.

The day starts with the Liturgy in church, and after the service the priests and congregation walk to the nearest waters.

In Prespa, people gather by the lake of the same name, where the priests throw a large cross into the waters and a group of hardy people jump in after it.

It is believed that the one who catches the cross will be the luckiest over the following year. As you can see from the photos, many people jump in the lake for the cross and it is interesting that no one has ever caught a cold after swimming in the ice cold waters of the lake on this winter day.

Someone finds the cross...

and the swimmers return to shore

After the cross is caught the congregation wash their faces in the lake and take some of this holy water home.

In neighbouring Lake Ohrid, on the shores of the city, much traditional and local food is also cooked by the lake, such as warming fish soup, fried fish, cooked wine and hot rakija.

Thousands of believers and tourists will gather by the waterways for Vodici, to enjoy the traditions and joy that this holiday brings.

За многу години!

Text: Irena Madzarovska

Photos: Zoran Peshevski

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