6 January in RomaniaBoboteaza or Teofania (The Epiphany)

In Romania, on the 6 January, the Christians celebrate the Epiphany or The Manifestation of God. In Romanian, it is called Boboteaza or Teofania.

In our region (Bucovina—i.e. north-eastern Romania), people gather in front of the church where a cross of ice is placed. A tub is filled with water and put in front of the ice cross and during the religious service the water is blessed. We call this blessed water agheasma. After the service, during which the church and the participants in the ceremony are sprinkled with agheasma, believers also take blessed water and bring it home in order to sprinkle every room of their house with it.

They say that blessed water has special powers as it was blessed on the day when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. The blessed water brings healing, forgiveness, keeps the homes safe from fire and from the evil spirits.

On the Eve of Epiphany, the priest visits his parishioners holding a cross and a basil branch to bless their homes with the Holy Water. It is customary to give a small donation to the priest on this occasion, donation which will be used for the church. The priest is announced to each parishioner’s house by small groups of children who shout Chiraleisa, Chiraleisa, Chiraleisa (always three times Chiraleisa). The word Chiraleisa comes from the Greek Kyrie Eleison and means Lord, have mercy!.

The field basil (busuioc in Romanian) has a special meaning on this day, as the branches and bunches of basil are used in order to sprinkle the Holy Water on people, walls and furniture. There is also a superstition which says that if, on the Eve of St. Andrew’s day, a single girl takes a small branch of the busuioc which has been used during the blessing of the house in January and places it under the pillow before going to bed, she will dream of the man who will be her husband.

cruce-de-gheata-400.jpg Ice cross

Liliana&the kids

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2 Comments »

  1. 1
    stbrendans Says:

    I found this story very interesting. We do something similiar on Saint Brigid’s Day on the first of February. We make a Saint Brigid’s cross from rushes.We then place the cross in our homes. It is said to protect the house from fires.

    From Jenny in Kilkenny Ireland.

  2. 2
    ginama Says:

    I also find this tradition very very similar to our costume to bless homes during the time after Easter using blessed water. The water was blessed during the Easter Eve rituals and used, during the year,by the priest for the baptisms and to bless people during the Mess, by christians for signing their forehead when they enter in the church and, as I said,to bless homes. Once, When the towns were smaller, the home blessing took place during the week before Easter. The priest went house to house blessing them and received as a donation fresh eggs and other field products. Nowadays, because of the growth of the places and the changing time, it took place in different moments of the year and the priest receive, instead of eggs, money.

    From the south of Italy.


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