We are in the coastal city of Rafina and the second largest port of Attica after Piraeus, on its east coast.
It is January 6, 1981, the date of the great Christian feast of the Epiphany or “Fota”. It is a celebration of Christianity, commemorating the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, by St. John the Baptist.
The ritual is characterized by the Sanctification of the Waters (Great Blessing of Waters) inside the church, the immersion of the Holy Cross by a priest on the sea shore, in ports, banks of rivers or lakes, even in water tanks and its retrieval by divers. According to popular belief, whoever catches the Cross will receive his blessing and will have good luck.
Crowds have begun to gather in the port of Rafina, where a ferryboat, boats and fishing vessels are moored. Afterwards, we see a procession from the local Philharmonic Orchestra, the priests and the altar boys with the symbols and the banners, members of the National and Military leadership and a large number of religiously faithful people. The procession, that comes from the central church of Rafina Panagia Pantovasilissa, approaches the port where the Holy Cross will be dived and retrieved.
The port is suffocatingly crowed, the priest throws the Cross into the sea, the divers start searching for him, the people are watching. After the ritual is over, the port is empty, the faithful leave either by car or by bus.
*also known as Theophany in the east, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation (theophany) of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. Eastern Christians, on the other hand, commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.