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Epiphany and”Blessing the Waters” remains a males-only tradition

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…😉

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12 comments

  1. nobody forces you to participate in our traditions, but we have had already far too much of ‘modernizers’ trying to eradicate them to make themselves feel superior or maybe just enjoy a power trip destroying someone else’s culture. thanks but no thanks.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      hah. says someone who has been supporting the destruction of state, institutions, banks etc in 179 comments on this blog in the last 5? years

      • the state, institutions, and banks , are partners in trying to destroy our traditional culture. we are the indigenous people here, but those institutions are a hostile occupying power. so yes, we could do with a lot less of all of that package.

  2. The male ego seems to be very fragile, dont touch because if you do he will become violent. The femicides are one example, why do males think they “own” a woman? And the institutions in society where almost soly founded by males yet they want to tear them down. I wonder if the world may be much better of if it was ruled by women like matriarchy, just a thought…. I dont say that women do everything “right” but it could be interesting to see but that is, probably, what at least some males fear! To loose some of their selfestimation…. as superior….

  3. Females are weaker and must be protected from cold water.

    The same reason they can not do military service, die in combat and so on.

    • For how long have you been living in a cave? Lots of women in army’s all over the world already do that…… both military service and participating in combat… and sadly enough, dies for their country!

  4. I think the clue lies in the word “tradition”. It implies that it and its associated “rules” were founded a long time ago when men were far more dominant in society than they are today. If you change the “rules” then it ceases to be a “tradition”. I’m not arguing that it is right or wrong. It is what it is, which is the whole point of “traditions”.

    PS In my opinion the words “winter” and “swimming” should never ever be used in the same sentence.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      nope. if we refuse to reform ‘tradition’ for the sake of their definition we can return to caves.

      these kind of ‘rules’ are not written anyway.

  5. 2 young women dived in on skopelos island one in Eliot one in loutraki . All traditions adapt over time .

  6. Perhaps it’s time to have a female prime minister 😉

    • You already have a female President, and she is doing a god job! A female PM would be even better! Hope Greece get one SOON……