Sunday, February 3, 2013

Vodici

So back in mid January we celebrated Epiphany, known here as Vodici. To celebrate, hundreds (or at least a bunch) of crosses are blessed and then thrown into bodies of water, with the largest celebration being in Ohrid. Here in Kamenica, it is thrown into the shallow river that flows through town. Once the cross is thrown, participants can jump into the river with the goal of trying to be the first to grab the cross (sort of like polar plunge, although as you can see here, we don't have any snow- writing this two weeks later, we still don't have snow). 

Most of the pictures below were taken of the Municipality's Facebook page as their photographer could push in front of the crowds to get the best pictures, while the lowly American was stuck in the middle of the crowd.

View of the crowd from somewhere up high. I was squeezed between the bridge and the second tree, right up near the back of the first clump of people.
The religious folk carrying everything from the church to the river (how convenient for them that the church is located right next to the river).
The wooden cross is being blessed.
Another of the cross being blessed.
More blessing.
The cross (top left corner) is about to be thrown into the river.
And their off! It was only young males who participated here.
The lucky victor holds the cross up for all to see.
Here is the winner. He now gets to spend the day going from house to house having people give him money to go along with the good luck the cross has brought him for the coming year.
The winner, the mayor, and the religious man.
Once the cross had been blessed, there was extra holy water, so the priest dumped it into the river. After the event now, lots of people bent down and drank and washed themselves from this water since it is now holy. I did not participate in this as I couldn't get past the fact that there was still a garbage pile just upstream, along with waste from the mine, and probably quite a bit of animal fleeces. No thanks.
Vodici marks the end of two month long holiday season here as we started back to school the following Monday.

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