Celebration of Epiphany Day
It is a custom that is related to the Great Blessing of the Waters. It is a celebration marking the end of the traditional ban on sailing - as the winter seas are cleansed of the mischief-prone “kallikantzaroi” - goblins that try to torment the Christians through the festive seasons.
The day is a public holiday and in the morning children go from door to door and sing the Epiphany carols. People attend the church liturgy and the ritual of sanctification, which is carried out by the priest who blesses the water. Then a Christian cross is thrown into a body of water with people jumping into the freezing temperatures to retrieve it and have its blessing all year long. After the cross is brought back, the priest releases a white dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
The “Phota” tend to form a triangle of events along with Epiphany Eve on January 6th, which is a celebration that children sing the Epiphany Carols and the great fest of St. John the Baptist on January 7th – when all male and female 'John and Joanne' namesakes are celebrated.