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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Greece Series at GreekPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Greek holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 3- “Epiphany.” In Greek, it's called [Θεοφάνια].
Theophany, or Epiphany, is a Christian holiday that is celebrated every year on January 6 to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ, or [βάπτιση του Ιησού Χριστού] in Greek. It is the third and last holiday of Christmastide, the period from Christmas until Epiphany. It is called the Twelve Days, or in Greek [Δωδεκαήμερο], because it lasts for twelve days.
In this lesson, you will learn how Epiphany is celebrated in Greece.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
The Greek word [Θεοφάνια], meaning “Theophany”, is a compound word. Do you know which words it consists of and why?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
According to the Scriptures, Jesus one day appeared before John the Baptist, who was preaching and baptizing in the Jordan River, and asked to be baptized. During His baptism, the voice of God descended from heaven, as did the Holy Spirit, or [Άγιο Πνεύμα], in the form of a dove, which hovered over Jesus. This was the manifestation of the Holy Trinity or [Αγία Τριάδα] on Earth. Because of this event, the Church incorporated the use of water into the ritual of baptism.
On Epiphany Day, in the coastal regions of Greece, the custom of the "blessing of the waters" or [αγιασμός των υδάτων] takes place. The ceremony can also be simply referred to in Greek as [αγιασμός], which translates to "sanctification". This custom relates to the baptism of Jesus; during the ceremony, the waters are blessed by the wishes and invocations of the priest, as well as by the immersion of the Holy Cross in the waters. In non-coastal regions, the ceremony can take place in a river, a lake, or even a water reservoir. Sanctifications are also carried out in homes, where a priest with a sprig of basil sprinkles the house with holy water.
When the Holy Cross or [Τίμιος Σταυρός] gets immersed into the body of water, daring swimmers, or "divers" known as [βουτηχτάδες] in Greek, dive into the ice-cold water to retrieve it. Whoever retrieves the Cross, after first kissing it, shows it around the neighborhood and receives generous gifts. The Greek movie [Μανταλένα], filmed in Antiparos in 1960, features this custom, representing it somewhat tragicomically. Other Epiphany customs include the Epiphany carols, which children sing the day before the holiday, and the "washing" of icons.
Do you remember the goblins or [καλικάντζαροι], the demons that rise to the earth's surface on Christmas Eve? The Epiphany sanctifications are thought to frighten them away, causing them to flee back into their subterranean hideout, where they remain hiding until the next Christmas Eve!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
The Greek word [Θεοφάνια] for "Theophany" is a compound word. Do you know which words it consists of and why?
The Greek word [Θεοφάνια] consists of the word [Θεός] meaning “God,” and the ancient verb [φαίνω], which means "to reveal". The holiday is called this because, as we discussed, God revealed Himself to the earth on this day.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you ever watched the rite of blessing the waters, either live or on video ?
Leave us your comments on GreekPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.

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Have you ever watched the rite of blessing the waters, either live or on video ?