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Greeks prepare for ‘Cross Day’ celebration December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.

TARPON SPRINGS, US >  Greeks in this sponge-fishing capital, gravely concerned over the fate of their homeland, turned today to preparations for their colorful feast of the Epiphany celebration January 6.

While the festivities are in swing, the struggle of tiny Greece against Italy will not be forgotten. A campaign to raise $25,000 for Greek war relief is part of the program.

The observance, popularly known as Greek Cross Day, will be conducted by the Greek Orthodox Church, but clergymen of other faiths will participate and thousands of tourists and residents of cities and towns for miles around will come here for the occasion.

The Old World pageantry, enacted almost identically after the fashion of Epiphany celebrations on the shores of the Aegean Sea back through the centuries, will be climaxed by the annual cross ceremony in Spring Bayou.

There, the Right Rev. Athenagoras, bishop of the Boston diocese, resplendent in the colorful raiment of his high office, will mount a barge with other notables.

The bishop will toss a golden cross into the clear, sparkling waters of the bayou, and 24 bronzed young divers will seek to retrieve it. The one who is successful will be given the bishop’s blessing and, tradition has it, will enjoy good fortune in all he undertakes for the coming year.

A dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, will be released from the barge to flutter aloft toward the heavens.

Other solemn rites of the Epiphany observance will be conducted at little St. Nicholas Church.

The picturesque sponge fleet will be in harbor so that the fishermen, many of whom were born in Greece, may attend the services.

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