Catholics celebrate Epiphany, Orthodox celebrate Christmas

The Christian festival of Epiphany, or "Three Kings" (Traja krali), as it is known in Slovakia, was celebrated in Slovakia on January 6.

The Christian festival of Epiphany, or "Three Kings" (Traja krali), as it is known in Slovakia, was celebrated in Slovakia on January 6.

The festival was marked by holy masses celebrated throughout the country. According to the Bible, wise men from the East were led by a star to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem, arriving twelve days after his birth to present gifts of gold (for a king), frankincense (for a priest), and myrrh (as a symbol of suffering). The pilgrimage of the three kings, by tradition named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, their arrival in Bethlehem, and the presentation of gifts are a traditional part of Nativity scenes and plays.

In Slovak villages, the holiday was once marked by carol-singing; priests would visit houses to bless them and sprinkle holy water, while their acolytes swung censers filled with fragrant thyme. Such twelfth-night processions are now rare, the TASR newswire wrote. Landlords would place three crosses lined with garlic and holy water on the lintel of each door in order to ward off evil spirits. People would also go to church to have their candles, salt, water, and chalk blessed.

Also on January 6, followers of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Slovakia celebrated their Christmas holidays, which fall on January 6-9 according to the old Julian calendar. Around 50,000 people, mainly in eastern Slovakia, are officially registered as Orthodox believers.

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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