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Bulgarians celebrate the feast of Epiphany with traditional rituals

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Thousands of Orthodox Christian worshippers have plunged into the wintry waters of rivers and lakes across Bulgaria to retrieve crucifixes cast by priests in Epiphany ceremonies commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ. The legend goes that the person who retrieves the wooden cross will be freed from evil spirits and will be healthy throughout the year. After the cross is fished out, the priest sprinkles believers with water using a bunch of basil. The celebration of Epiphany, or the Apparition of Christ, as Bulgarians call it, began in the capital, Sofia, with a water-blessing ceremony. Senior Orthodox clergy said prayers for the prosperity of the people and blessed the colors of representative army units — a tradition abandoned in 1946 and re-established in 1992.

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The Associated Press


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