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Epiphany 2021: Greek Priest Blesses the Waters — All Alone

Epiphany Greek priest alone
A priest blesses the waters alone. Credit: miss75437654/Twitter

The Epiphany in 2021, or Theofaneia, was celebrated very differently in Greece this year. In a moving image, a Greek priest followed the traditional rite of “Blessing the Waters” — all by himself, without the usual crowds of faithful flocking around him.
For Orthodox Christians, the January 6th Feast Day marks the baptism of the Lord in the Jordan River and is one of the greatest celebrations of the entire liturgical year.
The Epiphany is widely observed in Greece, with many attending long indoor liturgies and partaking in the outdoor “Blessing of the Waters” ceremony.
During the popular and often crowded rite, a cross is thrown into the water, which has been blessed by a Greek Orthodox priest, and then boys and men compete to retrieve it so that they may have good luck throughout the year.
This year, however, both the church services and the cross diving tradition were banned, as Greece hoped to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Standing defiant against the lockdown restrictions, the priests of the Greek Church still conducted liturgies and the “blessing of the waters” on the Feast of the Epiphany.
Although standing firm in celebrating the rite, the Church hierarchy decided that the blessing of the waters should take place indoors and not in the open this year, to prevent crowding.
However, some priests and worshipers went against government and Church orders and were fined for conducting the traditional ceremony out of doors.
Greek Metropolitan Ieronymos of Kalavryta and Aigialeia, on the Peloponnesian peninsula, was fined 1,500 euro ($1,850) on Wednesday for conducting the usual blessing of the waters rite in the open.
In order to avoid spreading the coronavirus, a priest in Chalkida on the island of Evia, was seen blessing the waters all alone, by pouring a glass of Holy Water into an outdoor body of water, completing the rite safely in this most bizarre year, when nearly everything we do has been altered in some way.

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