Bulgaria: Kalofer Orthodox believers brave freezing river for Epiphany tradition

A spectacular cross-throwing ceremony was held by Kalofer's Orthodox community as part of the celebration of Epiphany, Saturday. Male believers dressed in Bulgarian national costumes plunged into the freezing Tundzha River to perform a 'hora' dance. The dance was accompanied by musical instruments and traditional Bulgarian songs. Aside from celebrating Epiphany, a holiday which marks the... Еще baptism of Jesus Christ in the Orthodox Church, participants of the ritual believe that catching the religious icon of the cross is to bring health and strength in a new year. The cross is thrown into the river by a priest, during the ritual. One believer said that «it's a very beautiful tradition, characteristic for Bulgarian spirit» while another noted that the ritual brings «a lot of joy and happiness».

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