The Tradition of Blessing Homes
During the days following the Feast of the Theophany (January 6th), it is customary for the Priest to visit the homes of his parishioners, bringing with him the “Jordan Water” for the traditional Theophany House Blessing. The First Great Sanctification of Water is performed at the end of the Divine Liturgy on the Paramon of Theophany (January 5th). While that water may be given to the faithful to drink on that day and throughout the coming year, traditionally it is only the water from the Second Great Sanctification, which is performed on the day of the Feast of Theophany (January 6th), that is called “Jordan Water” and used for the Theophany House Blessing.
All who reside in the household should make every effort to be present for the Blessing. In anticipation of the arrival of the Priest to the house, the Lampada, hand-censer, and incense in the family’s icon corner should be prepared. If there is no icon corner, a small table should be placed on the eastern wall of the main room of the dwelling; the table, covered with a white cloth, should be set with one or more icons standing upright, a candle in a candle stand, a hand-censer and incense. A small bowl along with several sprigs of evergreen bound together with a ribbon should also be placed in the icon corner (or on the table), along with a clearly printed list of the Baptismal names of the members of the household. Upon the arrival of the Priest, he is to be greeted by all of the family members, each of whom asks for the Priest’s blessing and reverences his right hand. Then a family member lights the Lampada (or candle) and hand-censer and turns off all televisions, radios, phones, etc. in the home. Lights should be turned on in all the rooms of the house that are to be blessed. Then the entire family gathers with the Priest before the icon corner (or table) to begin the Theophany House Blessing.
It should be noted that it is customary for the head of the household to discreetly present the Priest with an envelope containing an honorarium (at the very least enough to cover his costs for visiting the home) and a list of the Living and Departed for whom the family requests his prayers during the New Year.