Today, Epiphana, or Epiphany, is celebrated in Greece, which now officially ends Christmas. On this occasion, festive festivities were organized in many places in Crete. Due to the very difficult weather conditions in Greece today, the traditional fight for a cross thrown into the water did not attract too many daredevils. In Ierapeter, only two local residents were tempted to jump into the icy water. Few more volunteers found themselves in Chania. Only five men jumped into the icy water in the small bay of the Venetian Port. Below you can see a short video that was recorded during the Epiphany festival in Zaros.
In Platanias and in several other towns the organization of this spectacular competition was abandoned, and the sanctification of water was limited to the symbolic immersion of the cross in water. Initially, the celebration of Epiphana was also canceled in Heraklion. Ultimately, however, Bishop Knossos celebrated the ceremony of blessing the water, for there was a fairly large group of 12 brave men (among them one woman) who decided to fight for the cross thrown into the water and a special blessing. Alexander Kolovos was the first to reach the crucifix.
Alexander Kolovos, who fished the cross in Heraklion
photo source: https://www.neakriti.gr/
On January 6, the faithful gather in the churches of the Divine Liturgies, which is the equivalent of the Holy Mass according to the Liturgy of Saint. Basil the Great. Later, together with the priests, they go in a solemn procession towards the sea or other available water reservoir. In small villages away from the sea and other open water reservoirs, temples are simply put in the temples with water. The culminating moment of this festival is the dedication of water. After reading the prayer from the liturgical book, the priest immerses the wooden cross three times in water.
The photo comes from the website www.candiadoc.gr, where you can also see other photos
made in Heraklion during today's holiday.
Last year's Epiphany celebrations in Chania, Crete
In Greece, if the festivities take place over an open water reservoir (sea, river, lake), the ceremony is more spectacular. The priest throws the cross into the water three times (though as we have not always noticed). He is tied to a sash, so after the first and second throwing it is pulled out by the priest. Only the third time, as a sign of ritual purification of the soul, eager men who want to fish for the crucifix jump into the water. Although the beginning of January does not inspire anyone to swim in the sea, however, on this day there will always be a group of daredevils who will gladly jump into the water. The one who catches the cross first will be able to enjoy happiness and blessing throughout the coming year. The rest of the swimmers generally kiss the crucifix caught in turn. The festivities end with the release of white pigeons from the sacred water. Depending on the region of Greece, the main ceremonies are enriched by additional local rituals, e.g. throwing oranges into the water, washing icons and agricultural tools in dedicated water.
This day fasting is no longer valid, so meat dishes appear on the tables.
In Crete, the old, rather forgotten, culinary custom was to prepare a dish called fotokoliva ( Φωτοκόλυβα ). This dish was prepared on the eve of Epiphany. It's a type of soup from various legumes. She was eaten the next day, feeding her animals as well. This was to ensure good health and wealth in homes. Chickpeas, wheat, lentils, fava beans and plain beans were used to cook Φωτοκόλυβα. It was served with lemon and Cretan oil, garnished with fresh onions and dill.