USA: Florida prepares for Greek Orthodox Epiphany Celebrations

Epiphany D Panagos

Tarpons Springs, Florida is about to host yet again, the annual Greek Orthodox Epiphany celebrations which attracts thousands of visitors to the area and has become one of the most popular events in the city’s cultural calendar.

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox parish community will celebrate the event today, 6 January 2022 with a limited procession to the Spring Bayou consisting of Clergy, Dignitaries and this year’s Cross Divers will commence immediately following the church to the Spring Bayou.

This year’s blessing will include a Prayer to End the Pandemic prior to commencement of the Blessing of the Spring Bayou.

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, will be among the participants in this year’s observance, said the Reverend Fr. Athanasios Haros, Dean of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. “This year’s blessing is a unique opportunity for us to recall our need for God’s grace. As the Archbishop beckons the Holy Spirit to descend upon the waters of Spring Bayou, we will pray also for the end of the Pandemic that has plagued our world for more than a year.”

Observances begin at 8 a.m. with Orthros (Matins) followed by the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral at 9 a.m. The Cathedral is located at 36 N. Pinellas Ave.

Due to COVID19 protocols, the general public is being asked to remain home this year and watch the blessing online at the Cathedral’s website or various local television stations. Any Greek Orthodox Parishioner who desires to attend the Blessing of Spring Bayou must pick up a special Parishioner Pass outside the Cathedral on the morning of January 6th. The wearing of masks and social distancing will be enforced in the Cathedral and at the Bayou. Seating will be limited within the Cathedral.

Following the Divine Liturgy and Great Blessing of the waters, Archbishop Elpidophoros, hierarchs, clergy, dignitaries and 55 young men, will proceed to the Spring Bayou. There, an invocation is recited and a white dove is released symbolizing the Holy Spirit to fly over the Bayou. The Archbishop will cast a white cross into the water and dozens of young men will dive for the cross, each seeking the honor of retrieving it. The retriever then kneels with the cross before the Archbishop for a blessing.

The traditional Epiphany Glendi, normally held following the ceremony, has been cancelled this year due to COVID19.

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Credit: Florida Historical Society