Epiphany in Greece
Epiphany in Greece is known as Theofania
The first sanctification of the Epiphany (The Enlightenment) takes
place in church on the eve of the holiday. 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.
An old custom in Crete , which is almost forgotten today, was the
preparation of the fotokoliva (boiled wheat with peas)
on the eve of Epiphany. The fotokoliva was eaten by the
people, but they also fed it to their livestock, which was believed
to insure good health and fortune in the homes.
The big sanctification takes place the following day, January 6,
the day of the Epiphany in Greece.
A long procession is formed and follows
whatever road that leads to a body of water - the sea, a river
or even a reservoir. Up in front of the procession are the cherub
icons, followed by the priests dressed in their best holiday splendor,
then the VIPs, followed by all the people. In the bigger cities,
the procession becomes more elaborate with the addition of music
and military contingents.
At the end of the sanctification ceremony a priest throws a cross
into the water, thus blessing the waters.
Then, those who dare - mostly the younger people of the village - jump
in the usually icy water and compete in retrieving the cross. The
one who brings the cross up to the surface will enjoy good luck and
health for the entire year.
(Video: Blessing of the Waters)