The Greek Orthodox feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th each year across the globe. This Epiphany, Greece found itself in the grip of freezing temperatures, but all the festivities, including diving for the cross, were still held.
Greeks usually attend traditional ceremonies in Greek Orthodox churches, and then travel in procession to the Blessing of the Water ceremonies, either by foot or car.
Again today, as they have for hundreds of years, men and teenage boys plunged into the freezing cold waters to commemorate Jesus entering the waters of the Jordan. It is believed that the person who retrieves the cross thrown into the waters by a priest will be blessed with good luck for the rest of the year.
The president of Greece, Prokopios Pavlopoulos, traveled to the island of Syros for Epiphany Day celebrations on Sunday. All the festivities to mark the day were headed by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II.
The country’s Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, attended Epiphany Day celebrations on Sunday at the church of Panagia Kamariotissa on the island of Samothraki.
After the liturgy, Tsipras, who was accompanied by Alternate Defense Minister Panos Rigas and Alternate Shipping Minister Nektarios Santorinios, went to the port of Kamariotissa, where according to the Greek custom, five swimmers dove into the frozen waters to retrieve a wooden cross thrown into the water.
Following the end of the celebrations, the prime minister was made an honorary citizen of the island of Samothraki.
The celebrations of the Epiphany blessing of the waters continued all across the country this morning. In Thessaloniki, the casting of the cross was attended by hundreds of Thessalonians, as well as clerics and political leaders.
The cross dive took place at the beach of Thessaloniki. A total of 24 boys and men dove into the frozen waters of the Thermaikos Gulf in hopes of retrieving the cross and being blessed with a year of good fortune. When it was retrieved by the victorious 35-year-old Michael Apostolides, he cried out: “for Macedonia!”
The celebration of Epiphany from Naousa Imathias can be viewed here:
With information from ANA-MPA