Greek Traditions: Blessing of the Waters 2018


A little bit of background history into an age old greek tradition.

Words by Billy George

Every year across Melbourne, the popular beach areas throughout Victoria, Sydney, the rest of Australia and the world, Greeks get together to celebrate the Holy Epiphany. The community get together within an epicentre of the traditional celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the River Jordan.

With the huge crowds that rush in, over 3000 people are expected to rush to Port Melbourne, Frankston and the likes to be lucky enough to catch the cross. The promise of a year's good fortune definitely does entice scores of young men to try their luck - the ceremony of Theofania, culminated by Greek Bishops and priests, a large gold cross is tossed into the bay to be caught. 

 Archive photos: Kostas Deves

Archive photos: Kostas Deves

The annual ceremony signifies the three kings visiting on the 12th day  of Christ's birth and festivities go well into the night across the areas. While the main attraction occurs just past midday (when the cross is thrown and the lads jump in), it's closely followed by a heap of great Greek food stalls, frappe (Greek iced coffee) and of course, traditional Greek dancing. 

A little bit of tradition goes a long way. I grew up surrounded by a lot of Greeks - from attending Saturday school from first grade right through to year 10 (Sophomore year in high school for my American friends). My parents hardly speak English when I was growing up - mum has learnt a lot since then but it's not completely fluent. 

With this in mind, traditions like this and much more have been grown in to me. Well not everything - I don't go to church every Sunday or follow every tradition. Trust me, there's a lot. 

Melbourne is the 3rd largest population of Greeks in the world - it's the biggest outside of Greece, sitting after Athens (the capital) and Thessaloniki. 

What this means is that this tight-knit Greek community get together quite often for much more than just the Theofania - it seems like there are a lot of festivals and celebrations around the city (and the state) every other weekend giving you the chance to relive it all. A suburb of Melbourne, called Oakleigh, is dubbed little Athens for the sheer fact you can go there anytime for one of the best Souvlaki and Greek coffee anytime of the day - and well into the hours of the morning on weekends. 

With 173,598 Greeks in Melbourne (Census data from 2011), it's easy to find a good feed, and not so hard to bump into someone from the same town your parents come from. It's like a brother hood. One you love and are embarrassed by at the same time. You stick together, you all grew up in a similar manner, you understand each other's struggle. Empathy goes a long way. 

What I Wore
Gstar bomber
Polo Ralph Lauren military shirt
United Arrows & Sons tee
LA Dodgers cap
Acne denim
Saucony sneakers
Bailey Nelson specs