(06/01/20) – Bank Holiday for Epiphany (φοτα)

Epiphany is celebrated on the 6th January every year as Orthodox Christians celebrate the baptism of Jesus.

Epiphany is also called the Fota (φοτα), in reference to the day being a Feast of Light, and it is also the saint’s day for Agia Theofana. The word “Epiphany” means the lowest point of light, or the dipping of the light – here “epi” means under or beneath, and the ancient syllable for light or shining, pha-, indicates the illumination. After Epiphany, what actually occurred at Winter Solstice, the beginning of the return voyage of the sun, becomes apparent and the days start to feel visibly longer.

The actual feast day begins with services of rejoicing at churches before continuing with the service of the Great Sanctification of Water. Then, processions comprised of clergy, local authorities and worshippers head to the nearest body of water – sea, lake, river, even water depots – where a ceremony is held to bless the water. This blessing is confirmed when the priest casts a cross into the water and a dove that symbolises the Holy Spirit is released. Young men dive into the water to retrieve the cross, and the individual who recovers it and returns it to the priest is given a special blessing, believed to provide greater luck for the year ahead.

Exact timings of events in kefalonia 2020 will be published later.

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