Monday, January 6, 2020

In Greece January 6 ~ 'The Festival of Light'

'Kali Kronia!'  (Happy New Year!) 'Kronia Polli!'  (Many Years!) 'Kalimera!' (Good Moring!)

Agios Nikolaos - January 6, 2020

We were stopped often as we made our way down the main street of our Greek village this morning. We called out greetings, received greetings, shook hands, and kissed cheeks as we passed friends and neighbors who were gathering at harborside.

We were blessed with blue sky and sunshine
It seemed as if the whole village - from those whose family roots are generations deep to those new seedling expats in the area -- had turned out for the annual Blessing of the Waters.

This day, the sixth day of January, is commonly known in the Christian world as Epiphany or Three Kings Day.  In Greece it is a feast day (a national holiday, to be sure) called the 'festival of light' (ton foton in Greek) and the day that marks the official end to the Christmas holidays.

The papas and his processional
In the Greek Orthodox Church, Epiphany is celebrated as the revelation of Christ as the messiah and second person of the trinity, at his baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, according to the Athens Centre. (Athens Centre offers classes in Modern Greek, poetry, art, and cultural events.)

Blessings are being offered in Greek
As part of the traditional celebration, the village papas (priest) offers a 'Blessing of the Waters.

In our fishing village, Agios Nikolaos, overlooking the Messinian Bay, the blessing is an event that can't be missed. Speaking of blessings, this year we were blessed by having some of the nicest weather that we've ever experienced at this celebration. In previous year's we've nearly frozen or been drenched with rain during the brief late morning ceremony.

Time to toss the Cross

We heard the church bells announcing this special day in the early morning hours. Their ringing echoed up the hillside to our Stone House on the Hill. They rang again later in the morning calling worshippers to the church. The third time their joyous clanging filled the air was as the papas and his procession brought the cross from the church to the harbor's edge.

One diver braves the cold water this year

Reciting a blessing he tossed the cross into the harbor and pulled it back, then he repeated his actions a second time. Meanwhile one young man brave enough to dive into the water to retrieve the cross, had stripped to his swim trunks and was ready to go in. ( In previous years several young men have braved the temperatures.)

Retrieving the Cross

The third toss - the crescendo of the blessing -- was made, the young swimmer jumped in, the crowd cheered as he retrieved the cross and swam to the papas to receive his blessing.

Refreshments are served!

Then it was time for refreshments. Platters of baked goods were brought out from nearby restaurants and tavernas.  The long tables at harborside, where the fishermen usually prepare, display and sell their daily catch, were turned into serving tables. Beverages ranged from tea to Metaxa, Greek brandy.

Agios Nikolaos on the Messinian Bay
It was over in just a few minutes, far less time than it took people to arrive and gather for it. But such a significant event that people here (like villages, towns and city's throughout the country), took a break in their day to bless the water. It is this type of celebration and these age-old traditions, that we adore about our Greek village life.

We thank you for being with us again this week and our fingers are crossed that Feedburner sends this post to your inbox as it did last week.  We appreciate the time you spend with us and again our wishes for a Happy New Year and happy adventures.  We will be back next week if all goes as planned from the tropical shores of Hawaii. Stay tuned - you never know what adventures we might have there.

13 comments:

  1. Hello, I love reading about the Greek traditions. Wonderful photos. Enjoy the Hawaii trip! Happy New Year, I wish you and yours all the best in 2020!

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    1. Hi Eileen, and happy new year wishes to you and yours as well! I am getting back into the swing of blogging so will pay you a visit soon!

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  2. I enjoyed reading about this festival of light. How very interesting! Love the photos.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Veronica! Hope you will come back again~ Happy New Year!

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  3. What a lovely tradition. I would love to see this and hear the church bells ringing to announce and celebrate the event!

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    1. And what is so fun about it, is that it is played out time and time again in villages and cities throughout Greece!

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    2. It is such an amazing tradition and to think of it happening in villages and cities throughout the country is pretty special.

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  4. Nice, simple and friendly tradition. I wonder why there are fewer men who braved the cold waters this year?

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    1. The funny thing is that people have been swimming in recent weeks and while the water is far more chilly than in summer, they say it hasn't been bad at all. This would have been a good year for a multitude of participants.

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  5. Looks like a lovely celebration. Thank you for sharing photos (and narrative) of the event.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Sandra! Thanks for taking time to comment and hope to see you back here again!!

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  6. I'm not sure I'm up for the stripping off and diving in for the cross but those refreshments sure look appealing!
    Happy New Year Jackie and Joel!
    Wren x

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    1. And happy new year wishes for health and happiness to you and yours ~ xxx Jackie

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