Orthodox Holiday of Epiphany (Twelfth-Day) in Vinnytsya, Ukraine. January 19th. www.sergoyalta.at.ua

Private guide in Ukraine Sergey Tsarapora http://sergoyalta.at.ua Tours, excursions, transfers in Ukraine and Crimea with Sergey private guide. The Epiphany, celebrated in Ukraine and Russia on January 19, marks the baptism of Jesus in the Orthodox Church. Believing that on this day water becomes holy and is imbued with special powers, Ukrainians and Russians cut holes in the ice of lakes and rivers, often in the shape of the cross, to bathe in the freezing water. I was one of many participants in the ritual may dip themselves three times under the water, honoring the Holy Trinity, to symbolically wash away their sins from the past year, and to experience a sense of spiritual rebirth. Orthodox priests are on hand to bless the water, and rescuers are on hand to monitor the safety of the swimmers in the ice-cold water. Other less intrepid people may limit their participation in the Epiphany rites to those conducted inside churches, where priests perform the Great Blessing of Waters, both on Epiphany Eve and Epiphany (Theophany) proper. The water is then distributed to attendees who may store it to use in times of illness, to bless themselves, family members, and their homes, or to drink. Some Ukrainians think any water - even from the taps on the kitchen sink - poured or bottled on Epiphany becomes holy water, since all the water in the world is blessed this day. In the more mild climate of the southern cities of Odessa, Sevastopol, Mykolaiv, Evpatoria, Balaclava, Yalta meanwhile, where air and water temperatures both hover in the low to mid 10 degree Celsius range in January, thousands of people jump into the Black Sea at midnight each year on Epiphany and begin to swim in celebration of the feast. First steps of Orthodox Bisantine Christianity in Kievan Rus medieval state started on the second half of 9th cent. The definitive Christianisation of Kiev dates from the late 980s (the year 986 is disputed), when Vladimir the Great was baptized at Chersonesos (Crimean peninsula), proceeding to baptize his family and people in Kiev. The place of Vladimir's baptism is marked by St. Vladimir's Cathedral (Sevastopol towm nowdays). Returning from Crimea to Kiev in triumph, Vladimir baptised his 12 sons, guards and many nobles. He destroyed the wooden statues of Slavic pagan gods (the statue of Perun — the supreme god — was thrown into the Dnieper). Then Vladimir sent a message to all residents of Kiev, "rich, and poor, and beggars, and slaves", to come to the Dniper river on the following day, lest they risk becoming the "prince's enemies". Large number of people came; some even brought infants with them. They were sent into the water while Orthodox priests, who came from Chersonesos for the occasion, prayed. To commemorate the event, Vladimir built the first stone church of Kievan Rus', called the Church of the Tithes, where his body and the body of his new wife were to repose. Another church was built on top of the hill where pagan statues stood before. By the way, Moscow [Moskva - in Slavonians transcription] was faunded, as known, in 1147 only (it was a very smal village on little island on the river Mokva [swamp - from Slavonian languages]. But Kiev was one of the biggest towns in Europe on that time.