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Macedonia, January 17, 2007

A Noon-Time Epiphany

And crazy Wayan is annoyed he didn't have one too

tiny nuts now
Brave & cold belivers
Are you religious? Or as least Biblically learned? Then, do you know what a "epiphany" is? I had no clue until noon today. That's when I found out it was a Macedonian Orthodox Christian celebration in memory of the day Jesus was baptized.

In Macedonian its called "Bogojavlenie Vodici" and there was an entire procession from the city's main Orthodox Christian church to the Stone Bridge over the River Vardar where the cold, muddy waters were blessed by the priest for at least an hour.

Now, ordinarily, I would've passed such a service right by without a thought, and so would many other Skopje citizens. But this was no ordinary blessing. At the conclusion of the oration, the high priest tossed the blessing cross into the rushing river.

Crazy Faithful guys then jumped into the river and swam for the cross. Or at least, tried to swim for the cross. As the waters were quite swift and oddly, the river quite low, it became more of a swift wade than a fast swim. None the less, there was a blessed winner, the savior of the cross.

He was hoisted on the shoulders of others, his photo splashed across the local papers, and if tradition holds, can take that cross to anyone's home and demand a favor.

While some folks took home blessed river water, or just anointed themselves along the river bank, I stood there in my business suit, dejected. Religious ceremony or not, I was disappointed that I too didn't swim for the cross.

Yes, crazy Wayan wanted to join in the fun, and I could have too, stripping down to my skivvies for a cold dip between meetings, but alas, I will have to save that insanity fun for another year. Work calls, and off I go.

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1 Comment

I grew up in Tarpon Springs, Florida- a rich cultural community of Greeks. Every year they hold an elaborate Epiphany celebration and everyone who is Greek Orthodox gets out of school and thousands flock to a bayou in downtown Tarpon Springs. Important religious figures come from Greece to officiate. They also throw a cross into the bayou for young Greek Orthodox boys between 16 and 18 to dive for. I imagine it's a lot warmer for these Florida boys, though!

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