Epiphany (6 January, also Theophany) celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. In Greece the feast is colloquially called the “Phōta” (Greek: Φώτα, “Lights”) and customs revolve around the Great Blessing of the Waters. Also in Istanbul, the Greek community celebrated today Epiphany. Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. threw a wooden cross into the waters of the Golden Horn and swimmers raced to be the first to retrieve it.
The swimmers are getting prepared on small fisher-boats….
Outside temperatures. 5C° plus cold wind. Bystanders, many of them Greek tourists who had travelled just for this event to Istanbul, are freezing.We do not even want to think about the water temperatures. Brrrr! It must be all about faith…!1, 2, 3, …JUMP!…SWIM!… CATCH the cross! The first one in grabbing the cross and to return it to the patriarch was 22-years old Lukas Kokinis from Alexandropolis. He was awarded by the patriarch with a golden cross pendant,……and once he got out of the water, he was surrounded by journalists.…very quick this sudden fame became too much for this young boy. He was clearly overwhelmed… …and tried to escape the crowed, protected by a friend.…but at the end, he posed once more for cameras and fans. Well done, Lukas!
Istanbul, the former Constantinople, is still home to a Greek community, unfortunately shrinking year by year. The Greek community of Istanbul numbered 67,550 persons in 1955. However, after the Istanbul Pogrom orchestrated by Turkish authorities against the Greek community in that year, their number was dramatically reduced to only 48,000. In 2005, the Greek community numbered about 2,000 people. In the Fener district of Istanbul where the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is located, fewer than 100 Greeks live today.