Best time to go to Athens

Theophania or Epiphany 2019

An inspiring tradition of throwing a cross into the water and diving after it highlights the celebration

Theophania or Epiphany in Athens - Best Time
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© Robert Wallace

​Athens commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ with colourful traditions. The most exciting is an event where a holy cross is thrown into any water basin found across Greece from seas to rivers, lakes, and even fountains. As the cross is thrown in by a priest, men plunge into the chilly waters to catch it and try to outrace each other. Whoever manages to be the first and bring it out is believed to be blessed with good luck. The waters of that basin are also considered sanctified after the occasion. According to long-established traditions on the eve of Epiphany, that is on January 5th, children go from house to house singing carols and priests bless households with holy water often taken from the water basin used in the cross throwing rite. Moreover, everyone named Theofanis, or Theofania, Iordanis, Fani, Fotis, Foteini, or Ourania have a double feast celebrating their name day at Theofania or "Phota." The festival marks the 12th day of Christmas celebration and is considered one of the ​most important religious festivals.

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