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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Russia Series at RussianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Russian holidays and observances. I’m Jenny, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 11 - Baptism of our Lord.
Every year on January 19, Russia observes one of the major Orthodox Christian holidays, the Baptism of our Lord. This holiday is also referred to as, “Epiphany”, which in Russian is Крещение Господне (Kreshcheniye Gaspodne,). This holiday was established to commemorate the baptism of Jesus and the appearance of the Holy Trinity, in Russian referred to as Святая Троица (Svyataya Troitsa).
But, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you- which dish do you think is considered traditional for Epiphany Eve?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Epiphany is one of the most ancient holidays in the Orthodox Church. According to the Bible, which in Russian is called Библия (Bibliya), on that day John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ in the waters of the River Jordan. This is where the holiday’s name comes from, which means the Divine Baptism of Jesus. However, the baptism celebration has another name as well. It’s Epiphany, which is connected to the fact that according to the Bible, during the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Trinity appeared before the world. The people not only heard God’s voice but also saw the Holy Spirit in the shape of a white dove who descended on Jesus.
The eve of the holiday is called Epiphany eve, or in Russian, Крещенский сочельник (Kreshchenskiy sachel'nik). It's a day of strict fasting. On Epiphany eve and on Epiphany, all Orthodox churches perform the rite of the blessing of the water. People believe that such water can cure them of any disease and help their body and mind stay healthy. It's believed that the Epiphany water preserves its special properties and will not spoil throughout the whole year. People take it home, drink it, wash themselves with it, and sprinkle it around their houses and apartments.
In Russia, there is an interesting tradition of bathing in an ice hole cut in the shape of a cross, which is called a “Jordan hole,” or in Russian Иордань (Iardan'). As a rule, people dip their heads in the water three times. The first time, in the name of the Father; the second time, in the name of the Son, and the third time, in the name of the Holy Spirit. Considering how severe and freezing the Russian winters are, bathing in the ice hole requires a lot of dedication.
On Epiphany, Orthodox priests traditionally clothe themselves in only white vestments. The white color symbolizes the Divine Light, and priests wear them on very important holidays such as Christmas, Epiphany, and Easter.
So, coming back to our quiz, which dish do you think is considered traditional for Epiphany eve?
As the Orthodox believers observe a strict fast at the time of Epiphany eve, the traditional dish is the сочиво (sochiva.) It’s a meatless dish prepared from various grains with the addition of honey, raisins, and nuts.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn something new?
Do people in your country celebrate Epiphany?
Leave a comment at RussianPod101.com, and I’ll see you in the next lesson!