Romanian traditions on Saint John Day


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Saint John Day is marked in Romania on January 7, with almost two millions Romanians celebrating their name day. St. John the Baptist ends the winter holidays opened by Saint Nicholas on December 6. St. John’s Day, also known in the Romanian folk tradition as “Sântion”, comes after another major religious holiday for Orthodox Christians: the Epiphany Day, which celebrates on January 6 the day Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River.

The folk tradition goes that Saint John is the babies’ protector, assuring they are born healthy, without malformations.

Saint John is also a day of joy and one must be happy this day or else will be sad the whole year.

Some in the countryside used to celebrate the day of Saint John so that God should keep away their households from fire and their animals from beasts.

Also on St. John, there is the custom of “women’s bathing”, which is in fact a housewives’ party. Women are usually gathering at some host’s place, and each of them is bringing food and drink, while partying till morning.

Another St. John custom is “Iordăneala”. Several youngsters who took Holly Water from the priest on St. John’s Eve, are going to church in the morning of St. John Day and, after the church service is over, they go splashing every man who comes out and wish him/her good luck. The ‘splashed’ people must reward the carolers with money.

The tradition however says that on the morning of St. John, every person must spray with new Holly Water to stay away from diseases all year long.

As far as the weather is concerned, the folk tradition says that after Saint John, the frost is baptized, meaning it begins to ‘melt down’ and it’s getting warmer.

2 million Romanians celebrate their name on St. John

Almost two million Romanians are celebrating their name day this year.

According to the Directorate for Persons Records and Database Administration, there are over 1.3 million men and 652,086 women bearing the name or derivatives.

Among the men’s first names, the most common is Ioan – 456,834 Romanians bear this name.

There are also the first names Ion – 347,224 Romanians, Ionel – 136,460, Ionica – 4,512, Ionita – 1921, Ionut – 358,401, Ivan – 6,939, Jan – 4,597, Jean – 3,471 and Nelu – 20,547.

Among women, the most common is the first name Ioana – 389,418, but also Ionela – 147,788.

At the same time, among the female first names celebrated by Saint John are: Ionelia – 6,792, Ionica – 19,380, Ionuta – 578, Jana – 4,908, Nela – 10,892, Oana – 72,196 or Onuta – 134.

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