6 January marks the annual Orthodox tradition of the Theophania.
After Christmas has ended, those of the Orthodox faith await the “Epiphany”, named “Ton Foton”.
This Feast Day known as “Theophania” means ‘a vision of God’.
The Epiphany is one of the most celebrated days on the Orthodox calendar and commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. It is also significant as this was the day Jesus Christ was announced as The Messiah and as second person of The Trinity.
One of the most well known traditions on the day is “The Great Blessing of the Waters”.
The ceremony is performed twice, the first being in the church on the Eve of Epiphany and the second on 6 January outdoors whereby priests bless the sea, rivers and lakes.
A priest throws a cross into the sea, either from the harbour or from a boat at sea and young men jump into the waters to retrieve it.
Tradition says that the person who retrieves the cross will be blessed with health and good fortune for the year ahead. It is also considered good luck for others to kiss the holy cross.
This year the Holy Archdiocese of Australia has announced that the special event will not take place in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth due to pandemic.
However the corresponding ceremonies for the celebration of Theophany are planned to continue as normal with the presence of faithful on Sunday 10 January in Adelaide, Brisbane, the Gold Coast in Queensland and in Darwin.