January 19 – Epiphany in Georgia

Posted on January 19, 2018

Throughout the Christmas and New Year's Season, I have acknowledged the different dates for holidays followed by folks following the "Western calendar" (the Gregorian calendar) and those following - for the sake of religious holidays, at least - the Eastern Orthodox or Julian calendar.

Here is another of those differences.

One thing that is weird about some people using the older Julian
calendar: it keeps getting more and more out of synch with the
regular (Gregorian) calendar that we use for regular (NOT religious
holidays) life. Way back when, there was a 10-day difference, and now
it's up to a 13-day difference.

In places like Austria and Finland and the U.S., Epiphany is on January 6.

But in Georgia (the nation, not the U.S. state) and Russia and Ethiopia - places that still use the Julian calendar for holy days and holidays - today is Epiphany.

Okay, you say - what is Epiphany?

In Western Christianity, Epiphany commemorates the coming of  three non-Jewish kings or magi (wise men) to see and acknowledge the birth of Jesus. Its name varies; some countries call it Three Kings Day or something like that.

On the other hand, in Eastern Orthodox tradition, Epiphany commemorates the baptism of Jesus. Baptism is a ritual that involves dunking a person into water or sprinkling a baby with water. In Georgia, there are baptisms of hundreds of children on this day. Also, the Black Sea is blessed by an Archbishop, and masses of people take part in "the Epiphany dip," braving the cold water in the middle of winter to take part in the religious rite. 

I guess it's a pretty quick dip! I mean - this isn't Hawaii! Here are some photos of Georgia in winter:

Also on this date:


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