6 January 2015

Greek Customs & Traditions: Theophania, Ton Foton, Epiphany

Lucky diver
Lucky Diver


The sixth of January; Christmas has officially come to an end and it is Epiphany, called “Ton Foton” in Greece.

 “The Festival of Light”

This Feast Day is known as "Theophania" meaning; a vision of God, or, "Christ shining through"

 Epiphany is one of the most meaningful celebrations for The Greek Orthodox Church, being third only, in rank, behind Easter and Pentecost.

6th of January is also known as "Three Kings Day", in the Western Church, a celebration of  "The Three Magi" visiting baby Jesus.

We've all heard  the Christmas Carol; " We Three Kings", which was dedicated to this event.




Adoration of The Magi El Greco 1568 Soumaya Museum. Mexico City.
Adoration of The Magi
El Greco 1568
Soumaya Museum. Mexico City.




In The Greek Orthodox Church, Epiphany, or, "Ton Foton" ( The shining forth) is celebrated as the announcement of Jesus Christ as The Messiah and as second person of The Trinity, at his baptism, by John The Baptist, in the River Jordan.

Another cause for celebration, in The Greek Orthodox Church, at Epiphany, is the fact that Christ's baptism, is only one of two occasions, when all three persons of The Trinity, showed themselves, at the same time, to mankind:

God The Father, speaking from the clouds, God The Son, being baptized in The River Jordan, and, God The Holy Spirit, revealed as a dove, descending from heaven.

(The other occasion was the "Transfiguration" on Mount Tabor)





Russian icon of the Theophany.  Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery.1497
Russian icon of the Theophany.
 Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery.1497



On Epiphany, The Greek Orthodox Church performs;

 "The Great Blessing of the Waters"

 This ceremony,  performed twice, once,on The Eve of Epiphany (A day of fasting), performed  in the church, and again on the actual day, outdoors, with priests blessing the sea, rivers and lakes etc.

The tradition goes as follows:

 A priest, surrounded by brave young men and boys, throws a cross into the sea, either from the harbour, or from a boat at sea.



Preparing to hurl the cross
Preparing to Hurl the Cross



 The minute the cross leaves the priest’s hand,
 is the signal for them to dive into the freezing water, to catch it.




And they're off!
And they're off!



 The lucky one, who finds and returns the cross is blessed by the priest;

 I should think that the only thing on the divers mind at this point, is a warm towel and something hot to drink!




The winner
The  Victor



As the cross is victoriously brought back, the priest releases white doves, as a symbol of The Holy Spirit.




The Dove as a Symbol of the Holy Spirit
The Dove as a Symbol of the Holy Spirit



This tradition is, carried out to remember and to celebrate, the Baptism of Christ, and to bless the waters.

An awful lot of blessing is carried out on Epiphany.

 Fishermen, have their boats lined up,  waiting for them to be blessed by the priest, once the daring divers are out of the way. 




House calls
House Calls


On the Eve of Epiphany, the priest has made his house calls.
  With a bunch of fresh Basil, dipped into a bowl of holy water and shaken around every room, he blesses the house and, anyone in his path, will have the basil shaken at them too!

Anything and everything is blessed!

This is also the day that the naughty little imps: Kallikantzaroi, who came out for the twelve days of Christmas, being afraid of holy water, scuttle back to their underground homes.

Read about Kallikantzaroi  HERE

 Another quaint custom, one that I only learnt about today from my friend Christos, is that of collecting two pebbles from the beach.




Pebble.Photo Christos Katsoulas
Pebble.
Photo Christos Katsoulas



They must be wet with sea water, taken home, without drying, and placed in the center of the house.
As the pebbles dry, the evaporating sea water, which is considered blessed, on this day, will bless your house.

Last but not least, and probably the most looked forward to, as the day before Epiphany was a strict day of fasting,  is the custom, of on arriving home after the celebrations, tucking  into  different types of delicious fried pastries.

 These are traditionally; dipples, ribbons of fried pastry, covered in  honey, or loukoumades, small round doughnuts, again covered in honey, that have been especially prepared, for today.



Loukoumades
Loukoumades



Water blessed at Epiphany, or, Theophania, the "Theophany Water" is believed to  different to Holy Water, in that its very nature has been changed and has become pure, honourable and praiseworthy.

Epiphaney/Theophania, as you may have guessed, is a traditional day in The Greek Orthodox Church, for baptisms.


Epiphany/Theophania, is followed by an eight day "Afterfeast", meaning, all  religious fasting is forgotten for these eight days, which is just as well, as it won't be long now, until fasting for Lent begins, forty days before Easter.

The sixth of January, Theophania, in The Greek Orthodox Church, is the name day of:

Fotis, Fotini, Fanis, Fani, Iordanis (Jordan) Ourania, Peristera, Theofanis, Theofania and Theopoula,.

Happy Name Day to you all.



More Saints of The Greek Orthodox Church




5 comments:

  1. Beautiful Post it is.... I Like this Post....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for reading, and for your kind comment.
      Susan.x

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  2. I hardly knew anything about this! Who would ever think that an English women would!!! So is your family going to eat loukoumades today? What a lucky bunch

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thirty eight years in Greece helps, plus, thank you Mr Google!
      After mountains of Christmas goodies, we are foregoing the loukoumades!
      Susan.x

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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