A dozen participants and hundreds of faithful who gathered for the Epiphany celebration in downtown Skopje today used the gathering to send out a political message to the Zaev-Kovacevski regime.

The hand-selected participants in the traditional retrieving of the cross for the waters of the Vardar river surprised the public with a gesture of unity. Instead of the mad race to be the first to find the cross and, as believed, have good fortune throughout the year, all participants waded in the water together, embraced, and retrieved the cross jointly. The non-competitors then announced that they will donate the reward usually given to the fastest participant for charity.

The crowd responded to this momentous even with a chant of “Never North, Always Macedonia”. This became the rallying cry of Macedonians who oppose the imposed name change, and is often heard on sport gathering.

The holiday, known as Vodici in Macedonia, honors the baptism of Jesus in the river of Jordan. It is celebrated in similar style all over the Orthodox Christian world.