On the Feast of Epiphany (also called “Theophany,” which means the “appearing of God”) water is blessed in the Orthodox Church. The feast day commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River by John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. It also commemorates the appearing of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Bible records this event in the Gospel of Matthew 3:16-17:
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water;
and behold, the heavens were opened to Him,
and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
To Orthodox Christians the feast is also a reminder of their own baptism and the cleansing from sin through Jesus Christ that it brings. Members of the Church take some of the blessed water home with them, to drink throughout the year, especially in times of illness. The priest of the parish also comes to bless their homes with holy water at the beginning of the New Year. Watch a video of the blessing of the water
Hymn on the Feast of Epiphany
When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan
the worship of the Trinity was made manifest.
For the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee,
calling Thee His “Beloved Son.”
And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,
confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ God, who hast revealed Thyself,
Glory to Thee!