Christmas holidays in Greece do not come to an end until January 6th, on the “festival of lights” or Epiphany. For the Orthodox church, Epiphany is the celebration of the baptism of Christ and his revelation as the messiah.
On Epiphany, the “great blessing of waters” is performed by priests around the country and in orthodox communities around the world. According to tradition, people gather at the nearest harbor, lake or river and the bravest ones surround the priest who is getting ready to throw the cross in the waters symbolizing the baptism of Jesus Christ. Once the cross touches the water, people jump in the freezing water and swim towards it trying to get it. When the cross is brought back, the priest releases a white dove symbolizing the apparition of the Holy spirit on the day of Christ’s baptism.
Do you think you would be brave enough to jump in the freezing water?