Theofania from Kalamata to Tarpon Springs

Kalamata, Greece

Photos Courtesy of Xristos Sotirakos

Theofania is the celebration of Jesus' baptism and also why the Christmas season in Greece last a bit longer.

This feast day draws a lot of attention in Greece and all over the world because for one it is the celebration of Jesus' baptism by St. John but also for the blessing of the waters ceremony.

A cross is thrown in the waters and swimmers race to retrieve it. The person who retrieves the cross receives God's blessing throughout the year.

It is an extremely important holiday in Greece but also abroad. In America and Europe, Australia and the Middle and Far East it draws crowds and media attention.

Places where there's less Orthodox Christians usually have large curious onlookers who gather to explore and discover what the celebration is all about.

Kalamata, a city in Greece's Peloponnese is a great place to celebrate any holiday. A large port, ocean front restaurants, a busy town square with trendy cafe's, bars and restaurants as well as shopping and a beautiful old town.

The city comes to life once again right after Christmas and New Year and you really get to feel the holiday spirit all over again.

For those who want to visit Greece in the winter there's no better time than during the Christmas season. This is also Christmas Eve for those who follow the old calendar and mostly all monasteries in Greece so you can celebrate Theofnia and two Chritmases.

Once the holidays are over you can explore the amazing surrounding towns and cities like Sparta, the Mani region, Koroni, Methoni and Pylos to name a few.

Tarpon Springs, Florida

Photos Courtesy of Yiannis Photography

This is one place where the number of attendants keeps rising. And it's not just the Christian Orthodox. There are some serious tourists in Tarpon Springs.

Tarpon Springs has the highest concentration of Greeks in the United States. This was originally home to Greek sponge divers and because of them this community grew.

You still see some remnants of the sponge industry here and you feel the Greek spirit wherever you go but nothing is like Epiphany.

With thousands of tourists arriving to experience the feast day this has become one of the top Greek events in the country.

Services start at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church and then there's the procession which leads to the Spring Bayou where the blessing of the waters occurs.

Local boys gather to retrieve the cross and Gods blessing. This years blessings go to Joseph Cooley who is part of the local Orthodox community.

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