Epiphany 2018: Greeks blessed the waters and sent Kallikantzaroi, the malevolent goblins back to the bowels of Earth where they belong.
Kallikantzaroi are believed to dwell underground but come to the surface during the twelve days of Christmas, from 25 December to 6 January, from the winter solstice for a fortnight during which time the sun ceases its seasonal movement.
According to the folklore, kallikantzaroi stay underground, sawing the world tree so that it will collapse, along with the Earth. However, when they are about to saw the final part, Christmas dawns and they are able to come to the surface. They forget the tree and come to bring trouble to mortals.
On Epiphany Day on January 6th, when the sun starts moving again, the Kallikantzaroi must return underground to continue their sawing. They see that during their absence the world tree has healed itself, so they must start working all over again. Until next Christmas.
This year Kallinanztaroi on the loose seemed to be especially tough and created several troubles to humans and animals on this Epiphany day.
Here are the highlights of Epiphany 2018
In Thessaloniki, Metropolit Anthimos released the white dove, a symbol for the Holy Ghost, just seconds before throwing the Holy Cross into the sea. But the poor creature plunged into the sea instead of flying away. White doves are usually kept in cages and some of them probably cannot fly.
Swimmers thought that the priest had thrown the Cross and rushed to catch it. The cross was thrown right after the dove, the swimmers focused on the Cross, but a kind one focused on the dove. He picked it up and rescued it.
Greek media speak of “a gaffe”.
In Oraiokatstro the Cross landed on the other side of the big municipality swimming pool.
In the river Aherontas, the priest seemed in a trolling mood and threw the Cross three times into the river that is legendary for taking the deceased to the Under World.
In Nafpaktos, a kallikanyzaros thought he was more clever than the other swimmers and he launched his attempt to catch the Holy Cross from a spot that was closer to the priest.
The priest declared Catching the Cross for ‘offside’ and gave his blessing to all the swimmers.
In Igoumenista, the priests had to make several trials to check the Cross is safely tied to the rope.
In Trikala, the priest threatened to not throw the Cross unless the swimmers/river-walkers would not withdraw first.
In Piraeus, the dove refused to fly and sat on the camera of state TV.
In Poros, the swimmers did not pay attention and swam to another direction from the one the priest threw the cross.
Beating the Kallikantzaroi
In Larissa, a middle-aged book sellers caught the Cross. He said it was the first time he jumped for the Cross.
In Platanias, Chania, a woman jumped into the sea, beat all male kallikantzaroi and caught the Cross.
In Thessaloniki, a 12-year-old female pupil was quicker and caught the Cross amid a big competition in the municipality swimming pool.
In Palaio Faliro a swimmer came out of the sea with a different kind of catch. An octopus!
The most embarrassing moment of Epiphany 2018 was when the mayor of Kalamata released, or better say threw a dead dove into the sea.
Equally embarrassing were the punches and the kicks among swimmers accusing each other of stealing the Cross.
While the church blessed the Waters, in several towns and villages of Northern Greece, old pagan traditions revived in order to scare the Kallikantzaroi and the winter darkness away.
Momogeroi in Kozanoi make noise all though the festive days.
Babougera, Momogeroi, Ragoutsaria, Fotarades are Macedonian tradition in order to exorcise the evil.