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Epiphany at the Jordan River

Amir Appel | Israel

entrance of the Greek Patriarch, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church

Qasr Al Yahud is the traditional baptism spot on the Jordan River

Every year, on January 18th, thousands of Orthodox Christian pilgrims go down to Qasr Al Yahud, the traditional baptism spot on the Jordan River, and the most fascinating and impressive of all the baptism ceremonies taking place in the Holy Land can be seen there.

The feast of Epiphany (the Greek word for “appearance”) symbolizes two important events in the life of Jesus: one is the visit of the 3 Magi (Wise Men) to Bethlehem when Jesus was born, and their recognition of him as the Messiah, and the other is the day that Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.

The mass descent to the Jordan River on the morning of Epiphany is impressive and colorful.  Ethiopian monks in traditional costume accompanied by thousands of Ethiopian pilgrims go to the River singing and dancing to the sound of drums. The main procession follows, led by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and monks, and dozens of young people playing pipes, beating drums and singing.

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