The main rituals of the blessing of the water (Yordan) took place after church service. A place would have been prepared ahead of time; the men of the village would remove from the ice of a river or well a large cut out cross, stand it up, and next to it the blessing would occur. 

It is hard to imagine a Hutsul Yordan without their triytsi-svichnyky (triple wooden candlesticks). The svichnyky had particular ritual meaning. Every gazda (head of the household) carried his family’s own such svichnyk, filled with lit candles and adorned with paper flowers and periwinkle leaves, to the site of the water blessing. Family candlesticks were quite different from church candlesticks. Church candlesticks were bigger, more intricately decorated, ornamented with polychrome and gilt. Home svichnyky were smaller, less ornamented, and usually had on them motifs of the Crucifixion, the Epiphany, solar symbols and plant motifs like the “tree of life.” The most important canters of production of triytsi-svichnyky were the Hutsul villages of Kosmach, Sheshory, Brusteriv, Verkhniy Yaseniv (all in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast). The examples in this exhibit are from private collections as well as the museum’s own collection, and date from the XIX century.

On the day of the water blessing the symbolism of water and fire was particularly pronounced. Gazdy would hand the svichnyky, with candles lit, to the priest, who would submerge them three times into the water without extinguishing them. The gazdy would then carry the lit svichnyky home, and carry out a ritual, tracing a cross-oberih with their flames on the ceiling over the table.

These triytsi-svichnyky were lit for Yordan, when someone in the house died, during storms or when a woman was in particularly hard labour. They were kept on the wall under the icons or in a komora (storage room).


An Introduction to the Epiphany (Yordan)

Encyclopaedia of Ukraine

Holy Water in Eastern Christianity

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Ukrainian Folk Art and Traditions

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