Great Blessing of Water

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The Great Blessing of Water is held on the eve of the feast of the Theophany (January 5) and/or the feast of Theophany itself (January 6), following the Divine Liturgy. The blessing remembers the event of the Lord's baptism, the revelation of the Holy Trinity, and also expresses Orthodoxy's belief that creation is sanctified through Christ.

Blessing the water

The blessing the water begins with the chanting of special hymns, with the censing of the water, and concludes with Bible readings, petitions and prayers.

The water is in a large container in the middle of the nave, or the service may be held at a freely flowing natural source. If celebrated indoors, the container of water may be decorated with candles and flowers as the symbol of the beauty of God's original creation through his Word and Spirit. During the service, a cross is dipped three times into the water.

After the blessing service, the faithful fill their containers to take some holy water home with them. This water is also used to bless homes during the Theophany season.

Water is seen by the Church as the prime element of creation. In blessing water, it is asked that the original purpose of water, as a source of life, blessing and holiness be revealed as one drinks it. In the Book of Genesis, creation began when the Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters.

In the blessing of water it is seen that the world and everything in it is "very good" (Gen. 1:31) and when it becomes corrupted, God saves it once more by effecting the new creation in Christ, his divine Son and our Lord by the grace of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 6:15).

The celebration of the Great Blessing of Water is an affirmation that through Christ's own baptism, he has lifted the curse of Adam's sin, and given the creative goodness of God's creation back to mankind once again. Thus when Christians are baptized, they are baptized into Christ, part of the creation that is sanctified in Christ.

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