Slovakia Research Forum

Question 40874
"I'm moving into a new home. Are there any Rusyn customs that anyone is aware of?"

Hello Greg: Thanks for adding the Theophany Hymn. It would helpful to note that January 19 is the date of Theophany according to the Julian Calendar.

Here is the Theophany Troparian, Tone 1:

When in the Jordan Thou was baptized, O' Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest for the voice of the Parent bare witness unto Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son, and the Spirit, in the vision of a dove, confirmed the certainty of the word. Thou hast appeared, O Christ our God, and dost enlightened the World, Glory to Thee.

The Theophany Kontakion, Tone 4:

Thou hast appeared, today, to the Universe, and Thy Light, O Lord, hath showed a sign upon us, who in knowledge sing unto Thee: Thou hast come, and hast appeared, O Light Unapproachable.

Submitted by Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 12/31/97 12:04:00EDT

We have posted the traditional house blessing and the Theophany hymn, "To Jordan's Water", at along with some additional background on the holy day.

Greg Kopchak
Submitted by Greg Kopchak on 12/30/97 20:22:00EDT

Larry: I am happy I reminded you of long ago memories, the older we get, the more sweet they are. As far as us city dwellers, dont feel too bad Larry, we were in the same boat as you, my family had an oil furnance (a big deal then as it was more "modern" than coal) but the problem was they had no money to buy the oil so as you can imagine it was a tad frosty here in Jersey for my family and alot of other Slavic families who were in the same shape they were. I also remember it was custom for the priest to give a little "remebrance" of Christs baptism in the Jordan, such as a little icon, prayer card, etc. I still have some of these to this day and treasure them.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 12/30/97 17:25:00EDT

Hello Joy: You bring back some fond memories. As I mentioned below my father was Professor (Choir Director) and Djak. From January 7 - 19 he directed koleda everyday. Then, from Jordan till way into March he was with the priest blessing homes throught Somerset County, PA (from the Maryland line to Windber; they were even such a great team that people in Cambria and Indiana Counties wanted them to drop by. So, I hardly saw my Dad for about three months in the Winter. I really don't know how my Mom did it now that I look back at it (meaning she had to do most of the heavy chores when we were shovel coal, take out ashes, etc. (we had no oil or natural gas fuel burner like you city folks had). Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 12/30/97 15:44:00EDT

Larry is quite correct, Rusyn tradition and custom does not include having the name of the Magi written over the top of the door, I know that Polish Catholics here still do this but it is mainly a Roman Rite tradition among the Slavs here. It is also customary to have food and drink for the priest and cantor and/or choir and generally, by the time they are done with all the homes they cannot see straight as everyone has offered them something more than tea to drink. Again, good dialog everyone.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 12/30/97 14:58:00EDT

Hello Mark: In the Orthodox faith and tradition, which the Greek Catholics were once (1054-1596 and 1646, respectively), our feast of Theophany has a different meaning/significance than the Roman Catholic feast of the Epiphany. The feast of the Epiphany (in the Roman Catholic Church) simply commemorates the appearance of the three Magi (from the Greek word Epiphany which simply means appearance). Our Theophany primarily commemorates the baptism of Christ. (Theo means God...the appearance of God.) Thus, we often call Theophany "Jordan," which was the River where Christ was baptised. So the writing of the three Magi names is not a custom in the Rusnak/Rusyn house bleesing ceremony. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 12/30/97 12:15:00EDT

I just wanted to add that Slovaks also have the custom of yearly house blessing by the priest on Epiphany (Theophany), but it involves writing the number of the new year in chalk above the inside front door along with the initials of the Three Wise Men (Balthazar, Caspar, and Melchior). Is that not part of the Greek Catholic Rusyn customs?
Submitted by Mark Sabol on 12/30/97 10:58:00EDT

This is more superstition but after the priest blesses the house, the first time a person enters the house they are to step in on their right foot. That is, the first time the family and all guests enter the right foot is to touch the floor first. "Starting out on the right foot!" My wife's family (Orthodox) especially all the European relatives do this every time they visit. So far so good. Good luck in your new home and God bless.
Submitted by Bert Barry on 12/30/97 09:12:00EDT

Greg: Agreed but the Theophany blessing is a yearly tradition. As far as moving into a new home I have been told you have it blessed before you move in, then of course, every January after that. I hope this tradition keeps going but it seems to have wained, anyway in this area, in recent years and not too many have it done anymore on an annual basis and if you only have one priest sometimes it takes him until the end of February to get to your home due to his schedule, yours, etc. I sure hope it continues.
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 12/30/97 12:16:00EDT

Hello Greg: Excellent comment about all homes being "reblessed" after Theophany. In the old Orthodox custom (i.e., those who still celebrate holy days according to the Julian calendar) Theophany is January 19. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 12/29/97 22:46:00EDT

The tradition is to have all homes blessed following the Feast of Theophany on January 6. The holy water used for the blessing is blessed during the services on January 6.
Submitted by Greg Kopchak on 12/29/97 21:46:00EDT

Dear Carolyn: First and foremost as Larry has said, the new home was to be blessed by a priest, you would not even sleep there one night before that was done first. Each room to have an icon, and cross was correct also but I know my family also had an altar type table with embroidered cloth and a lampada (lamp where you put a candle) and any icons of the family (patron saints, etc) which was placed in the main room of the house and had to face east. Lastly, and you may chalk this up to superstition, the four corners of the home, inside and out, you were to sprinkle a little salt that was blessed in your basket at Easter, this was to ensure that no calamidy or bad illness or the devil himself would enter the home. This is what my family do and they were from the village of Ujak, now called Udol in former Saros county and most decidedly, Rusyn customs for that village. I am sure others have other customs but this is what I was told and have done (I figure why take chances?). Good luck in your new home!!!!!! S' Bohom!
Submitted by Joy Kovalycsik on 12/29/97 16:51:00EDT

Hello Carolyn: The traditional requirement when Rusnak/Rusyn families, who are either Orthodox or Greek Catholics, move into a new residence (home) is to have their parish priest bless that home. Father Basil Stroyen, in his newsletter which is called "The Orthodox Herald" described in wonderful detail what the family does to prepare for the visit by the priest. My father was a choir director and "diak/djak" who was schooled in the old days about this tradition and requirement. The "djak would generally accompany the priest during the blessing. (Actually, the djak did most of the singing of prayers.) It was quite an event for the family. Of course, each room must have an icon. Lavrentij Krupnak
Submitted by Laurence Krupnak on 12/29/97 13:15:00EDT

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