The Blessing of Our Homes at Theophany
On the 6th January every year we celebrate the Baptism of Christ in the river Jordan by St John the Baptist. This is known as the Feast of Theophany (Θεοφάνεια) meaning “God revealed” or Epiphany.
The Troparion we joyously chant on this day proclaims: “When Thou wast baptised in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest Trinity was made manifest Trinity was made manifest, for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the Word. O Christ our God, who has appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.”
He who is God immerses himself in His creation and sanctifies it and the waters turn back. The water of the Jordan needed His presence to become sanctified and to become an agent for cleansing us. We too partake of this sanctification in the waters of our own baptism.
Traditionally, our Orthodox Priests visit all their parishioners in their homes to pray with them and to bless their homes with the sanctified water of the Theophany service. The priest will bring with him the Holy water, basil branches (βασιλικό) for sprinkling the water, and the Cross. The faithful guide the priest to all the rooms and especially the iconostasis (icon stand). As he enters and moves around the house we can all join him in chanting the above Theophany troparion. The sprinkling of the Holy water is to rid the house of all evil and to fill it with every blessing.
We also bring Holy water home to use throughout the year to bless our homes and to drink, whether we are ill or as part of our daily prayer life. Water has always been crucial for life and so partaking of this water is purifying and cleansing. It is a pious custom among the faithful to give the priest a donation for his time and effort, but this should never be thought of as a requirement.
Source: Lychnos December 2016 / January 2017