the Blessing of the Waters -
Theofaneia or Fota, the Blessing of the Waters

People in Greece celebrate Epiphany on the 6th January. In the Greek Orthodox Church, Epiphany celebrates the Solemn Blessing of Waters, in commemoration of Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan river. Epiphany is also known as Theofania or Fota and «The Blessing of the Waters».

The first sanctification of the Epiphany (The Enlightenment) takes place in church on the eve of the holiday. The actual feast day begins with the service of the Great Sanctification of Water. Then, processions comprised of clergy, local authorities and worshipers head to the nearest body of water – sea, lake, river, even water depots – where a ceremony is held to bless the water. The procession can be more elaborate with the addition of music and military contingents.

Theophania a priest blessing the waters by throwing a cross in the sea.

At the end of the sanctification ceremony a priest throws a cross into the water, thus blessing the waters. Young men dive into the sea to try to be first to get the cross. Whoever gets the cross first is meant to have good luck during the coming year. After the diving, local fishermen bring their boats to be blessed by the priest.

Epiphany or the Blessing of the Waters- Epiphany celebration in Greece - the diver found the holy cross. -
Epiphany celebration in Greece – the diver found the holy cross and will be lucky during the year!

Afterwards, the priest goes from house to house holding a cross and a basil branch. As he walks through each house, he uses the basil to sprinkle (bless) all the areas of the home.

Kallikantzaroi sawing the world tree.
Kallikantzaroi sawing the world tree.

On Epiphany, the kalinkantzari, the malicious spirits who are said to be active during the twelve days of Christmas, are believed to be banished for the rest of the year.

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