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    Posted January 19, 2014 by
    Skopje, Macedonia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

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    Vodici in Skopje: Daniel Doncevski caught the Holy Cross in river Vardar


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Gorgi Selkov and Tamara Mihajlovska, journalists who work at a Macedonian website called Popularno.mk, captured the scene as throngs of people ran into the Vardar River in Skopje, Macedonia, as part of the annual Bogojavlenie Vodici (Baptism of Jesus Christ) celebration. “During this unique event, the waters of the lake are being baptized by the high priest by throwing the cross into the water, but the real attraction is the people jumping into the cold waters of the lake trying to find the cross! The one who finds it is believed to be blessed for the whole of next year and becomes a kind of local hero,” Selkov said. The event took place on Jan. 19. Mihajlovska took the photographs and Selkov wrote the text.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    Daniel Doncevski from Skopje settlement Madzari caught the Holy Cross today when the Head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church (MPC), HH Stefan, threw the cross in the waters of Vardar River on the occasion of Bogojavlenie Vodici (the Baptism of Christ) in Skopje.


    This is the third time for Doncevski to pull out the Holy Cross from Vardar River.


    FEATURED: Vodici 2014 photo gallery from Skopje


    This year cross-catching ceremony was marred by violation of the rules, namely some of the participants dived into the water before the official start of the competition. MPC said the competition awards would be reduced next year, as the event should symbolize a spiritual birth.


    The celebration of Vodici kicked off earlier today with a liturgy in St. Dimitrija Church in Skopje. Afterwards HH Stefan performed the Great Theophany Blessing of Water, dipping the Holy Cross and blessing the water of the Vardar River. It is considered that the one who catches the cross will enjoy happiness, health and welfare all year long.


    The traditional ceremony of throwing the Holy Cross is being held throughout Macedonia, with the largest one in Ohrid.


    The holiday marks two events in Jesus Christ’s life, according to the Christian Bible. The first event was when the three wise men, or kings, visited infant Jesus. The second event was when St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus.

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