This year’s Epiphany celebration here on Crete, across Greece, and around the world was a joyous and colorful event across seasides and lakeside areas anywhere Orthodox Christians live. The fascinating ritual to celebrate the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist was a spiritual highlight from Crete, and Chania has a particularly uplifting ritual.
Epiphany is one of the most sacred Greek Orthodox celebrations, rich in Christian traditions that also date back to ancient times. The celebration is also known as “Theofania or Fota,” and is celebrated January 6th each year. The most important ritual of the Epiphany is the blessing of the waters with the Holy Cross by the Greek Orthodox priest. This year the ceremony began with an early morning Holy Mass the Cathedral of Chania city, Panagia Trimartyri.
While the Holy Mass was taking place, men and women swimmers were preparing to dive into the waters of the Venetian Port, in the hope that the one who retrieved the cross would be blessed for the whole year. When the priest threw into the sea the holy cross so that swimmers could compete to recover it, spectators on short and aboard yachts and small boats in the harbor cheered.
In tradition, the priest is begged to throw the cross into the water three times, so there were three lucky men who were granted a special blessing for the year that has just begun. All across Crete and Greece, similar ceremonies were being held at seaside villages and at mountain lakes, even in swimming pools. And just so readers don’t think men have the advantage of being blessed, in Platanias, outside Chania, a woman beat all male kallikantzaroi and retrieved the Holy Cross.
From Crete to Cyprus, Istanbul, Poland, Russia, and as far away as Australia and Tarpon Springs Florida in the US, Eastern Orthodox faithful made 2018 yet another symbol that Christianity and hope are still strong around the world. The video above from News 10 Tampa Bay Sarasota, reveals how Americans celebrate.