The Greek Orthodox tradition to throw a Holy Cross into the waters on the Epiphany Day remains largely a males-only issue even in the 21st century.
Dozens of men, as young as 8 years old and as old as 89, jumped into the cold sea, into a river or a lake, on 6. January 2023, to catch the Cross thrown by a priest to bless the waters on the day dedicated to the Baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the Jordan river.
28 men and one young girl jumped into the waters of Thermaikos Gulf to catch the Cross in Thessaloniki, state broadcaster ERT reported earlier today.
39-year-old Michalis Apostolidis was the lucky one to catch the Cross and get the Belssing for the rest of the year. An IT engineer, Apostolidis said that it is the fourth time he gets the blessing in Thessaloniki and that he has caught the cross a total of 18 times so far, local media thestival.gr reported.
Also in Piraeus, dozens of men of the Greek Navy jumped into the waters, one of them caught the Cross and received the Blessing, while the rest shared the blessed experience.
In big and smaller cities it was males who jumped, and there may have been one or two women who joined the tradition, as in the past. However, it has not been mentioned in the media, so far.
Video: Young boys jump for the cross in Patras and sing the national anthem
Video: 3 male students jump for the Cross in Almyropotamos, Evia
It is not that girls and women in Greece are afraid of the cold waters in January. Many are winter swimmers and certainly women serving in the Navy would loved to have joined the blessing experience. Every year.
But it is the patriarchal tradition of the Greek Orthodox Church and the conservative society that keeps women away from a males-only religious tradition.
It was in a popular Greek film in the 1960, when they first showed a woman jumping in the water for the Cross. However, it was a staged victory for the benefit of young Mantalena as the film priest just wanted to help the impoverished and orphaned family of six children to get the Blessing and convince the pious local community to sail with the only family asset, a boat.
Video: Manalena (1960)
Unfortunately, not much has changed between 1960 and 2023.
Apparently only males deserve the Church blessing – and certainly the associated Epiphany of the Holy Spirit.
PS I guess I got the Epiphany inspiration to write such a post even though I did not jump into the waters and the Holy Spirit did not sit on my head in form of a dove…😉