The dawn of the “Theophania” (Epiphany) is just a few hours away and all is ready at the main port of Pireaus for the blessing of the water.
This year, despite the pandemic, the priest from St. Nicholas will be once again throwing the Holy Cross into the freezing cold water of the port in order to bless it.
Very strict measures have been taken so that nobody will be at risk of catching the virus.
The 6th of January is the day set by the Greek Orthodox Church to mark the baptism of our Lord Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan.
That was also the first time the Lord’s voice was heard saying that Jesus is His Son. The Holy Spirit in the form of a white dove sat on Jesus’ head as He emerged from the water.
Greeks celebrate this day by blessing the sea when there is one nearby or else the water in the baptism ‘tub’ if the sea is not near enough for the priest and the congregation to walk to.
Men of all ages usually dive and the one to find the Cross is ‘the blessed one’.
It is truly a moving experience to watch and even a greater one to take part in.
At the main port of Pireaus, boats form a square with a warship in the middle from which navy seals and veteran navy seals dive to catch the Cross.
Horns from all the boats are blown and there is great excitement as the first seal finds and brings the Cross to his lips to kiss and be blessed.
It is a great day for the navy and all who either go to watch or are just spectators of this very festive occasion.
All divers are offered a small Cross by the Bishop and he blesses each and every one of them for defying the cold and diving for this Holy purpose.
If you happen to find yourself in Greece on the 6th of January, make your way to the port of the town or city you are at and experience Epiphany – the Greek Orthodox way.