As a Bulgarian, Jordan day has always been one of my favorite Bulgarian holy days.
Jordan day also known as the day of the cross is celebrated on January 6th. It is a day when our Bulgarian men fearlessly and faithfully jump in the icy cold waters of the rivers to commemorate Christos (Jesus Christ). This feast day celebrates the revelation of God the Son as human being in Jesus Christ.
In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the emphasis is on the “shining forth” and revelation of Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah (Christ) and the second person of the Trinity. The holiday is called Jordan day because it commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river by John the Baptist. It is a significant event because this is one of only a couple of occasions in Scripture where all Three Persons of the Trinity presented themselves simultaneously to humanity: God the Father by speaking through the clouds, God the Son being baptized in the Jordan river, and God the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descending from heaven upon God the Son.Therefore, this Holy day is considered a Trinitarian feast.
“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
In our Bulgarian tradition, Bulgarian men from all over the country jump in the icy cold rivers and lakes to retrieve a cross that was thrown in the waters by the priest. Young and old men dive in the freezing waters to retrieve the crucifix. After retrieving the cross, the men stay in the water and dance. Bulgarians, we are well-known for celebrating with food and dance. On the photographs below, you can see young and old Bulgarians dancing the traditional Bulgarian dance called the horo.
It is believed that the person who retrieves the crucifix will enjoy good health the entire year. The interesting thing is that throughout this hundreds of years old tradition, there has never been one incident of any one participant experiencing illness or injury despite the health compromising weather conditions (and those of us who have grown up in Eastern Europe know how cruel the winter can be).
The day is also known as Epiphany as it relates to the scriptural passages of Heaven opening and the Spirit of God manifesting as a dove that descends upon Jesus Christ.
Western Christians commemorate principally the birth of Christ on Christmas in December. Eastern Christians principally commemorate two major events of Jesus’ life, his baptism as it is the officiate mark of His Ministry as well as His death and resurrection.
(Pavel Gospodinov photography)