Orthodox Georgians Celebrate Epiphany Holiday

Orthodox Christians in Georgia celebrated the Epiphany this week (January 19), a feast day which celebrates the revelation of God of his son as human in Jesus Christ.

Churches by tradition deliver services across the country, after which water is sanctified and distributed among the church goers.

On this day, sanctified water acquires the benevolence of the River Jordan - which is kept throughout the year to be used, considered holy and unpolluted unlike ordinary water.

It is believed that the water of Epiphany is full of curative properties and can purify a believer of their sins. The Epiphany celebration also commemorates the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.

According to Georgian tradition, godchildren should spend the day with their godparents.Another tradition of the Epiphany is mass-baptizing of infants in the Trinity Church of Sameba.

This year, on the feast of Epiphany, Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II baptized 659 babies, a tradition which started in 2008. As a result, the Patriarch is the godfather of thousands. In total, 26,688 children have already been baptized by the Patriarch, each the third child (or fourth, or fifth…) of their parents- an initiative introduced by the Patriarch to improve the demographic situation in the country.

In Batumi they conduct the mass ‘Epiphany dip’ ceremony whereby hundreds of Orthodox Christians come to the beach at midnight to be purified of their sins, entering the cold Black Sea water which is blessed by the Archbishop of Batumi and Lazeti Dimitry.

This year, because of a storm forecast on the Black Sea coast, one hundred rescuers were mobilized during the ceremony.

Tamar Svanidze

21 January 2016 22:09