Holy Epiphany and the Blessing of the Waters / Videos we like

A Major Sacred Feast Day in the Greek Orthodox Calendar

Greece has many traditional events and celebrations that have been passed down through history and are still celebrated today. One of these is the Orthodox Christian Feast of Epiphany, also known as "Ta Fota" (the Feast of Lights) or "Theophany" (the Revelation of God). This feast is held annually on January 6th. According to tradition, Epiphany, along with the Day of St. John the Baptist celebrated the following day, symbolically and festively concludes the cycle of the 12 days of winter holidays that begins on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December.

 Epiphany is the second major sacred feast day in the Greek Orthodox Calendar, after the Feast of Resurrection. On this solemn day, the Greek Orthodox Church, alongside the entire Eastern Church, commemorates the blessing and sanctification of waters, reflecting the moment when Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River by Saint John. According to the evangelists who described this biblical episode, the Heavenly Father's voice was heard saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," revealing Christ's divine nature as the long-awaited Messiah. The Holy Spirit also appeared in the form of a dove, which symbolizes purity and innocence. In the Orthodox Church, this day is celebrated as the day when all of creation is illuminated by the sanctifying presence of God. This is why it is called "Ta Fota," which means the Lights.

The Sanctification of the Waters and the Ritual of Casting the Cross into the Sea

 The day of Epiphany is celebrated in Greece and Crete with various joyful and spectacular ceremonies. The festivities begin on the eve of Epiphany, on the 5th of January. Children sing "Fota kalanda" (carols) and take the message of Jesus’ baptism from house to house in their neighborhoods. At churches, the service of "Mikros Agiasmos" (the Small Sanctification of Water) is conducted. The Priests bless the faithful by holding the Holy Cross in hand, dipping basil branches into the Holy Water, and sprinkling it on the forehead of each person. The priests then bring holy water to their community, visiting and blessing all the Greek Orthodox homes.

 The celebration of the Baptism of the Lord begins with the Holy Liturgy service in churches. Afterward, the clergy, local authorities, and faithful form a procession and head to the nearest body of water, such as a sea, lake, or river. At the dock or promenade, the sacred ceremony "Megalos Agiasmos" ("The Great Holy Water") takes place. Orthodox priests bless and sanctify all waters on this day, as Jesus Christ sanctified the Jordan River through his baptism. In Cretan cities, the ceremony typically takes place on the seashore and is accompanied by a brass band and a military guard, similar to a national holiday.

 The event's most anticipated moment takes place towards the end when a priest, surrounded by brave young people, throws a cross into the sea three times - once for the Father, once for the Son, and once for the Holy Spirit. Swimmers race in the cold water to retrieve the cross and return it to the priest. They believe that this will bring them good luck and health in the new year. During the ceremony, one or more white doves are also released, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, as seen at Christ's baptism. After the sanctification of the waters, local fishermen bring their boats to the shore to receive the priests' blessings.

 A bunch of basil dipped in Holy Water is sprinkled on the participants after they return to the church, and bottles filled with Holy Water are given from the large vessels prepared the day before in the churchyard. In Christian tradition, every Christian should keep a large holy water vessel at home, in a clean place, and drink it reverently on fasting days or during times of trouble, need, or suffering.

 Winter is a fantastic time to explore Crete, and you have the option to choose any city that fits your preference to enjoy the season's great events and feasts. For example, if you visit the city of Heraklion, you can attend the Feast of Epiphany at Agios Titos Cathedral and witness the ritual of blessing the waters in the old Venetian port. This experience will provide you with an authentic and profound connection with the Cretan people and their way of life, adding spiritual wealth to your journey.

 We are delighted to share a video and some photos from the Blessing of the Waters Ceremonies in the ports of Agios Nikolaos and Heraklion!

Xronia Polla! Kala Theophania!

No comments

Post a Comment