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GreekReporter.comAustraliaEpiphany Celebrations for Greek-Australians in Frankston and Rye

Epiphany Celebrations for Greek-Australians in Frankston and Rye

The Greek community of Australia is ready to celebrate Epiphany Day. Many Greek-Australians congregate in Frankston & Rye in order to attend the Blessing of the Waters.

The Epiphany commemorates the first two occasions on which Jesus’ divinity, according to Christian belief, was manifested: when the three kings visited infant Jesus in Bethlehem, and when John the Baptist baptized him in the River Jordan.

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.

The big sanctification takes place on January 6th, the day of the Epiphany. A long procession is formed and follows whatever road leads to a body of water – the sea, a river or even a reservoir. In front of the procession are cherub icons, followed by priests dressed in their best holiday clothing, then the VIPs, followed by all the other people. In 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 – jump in the usually icy water and compete to retrieve the cross. The one who brings the cross up to the surface will enjoy good luck and health for the entire year.

Blessing of the Waters festivals in Australia are held in various seaside towns, including Rye, but it all started in Frankston many years ago. Frankston remains the only venue to bless the waters on Epiphany Day. Epiphany Day is one of the most important dates for the Greek community.

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