Orthodox Christians mark Epiphany with dive for cross
Turkey’s Orthodox community gathered in Istanbul’s various neighborhoods on Jan. 6 to mark Epiphany, a Christian belief and feast day that celebrated the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ, with believers retrieving cross out of the sea.
The central location for the celebrations was in the St. George Church in the Balat neighborhood of Fatih district. Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader for millions of Orthodox, presided over the four-hour ceremony, where a limited number of people were allowed due to COVID-19 measures.
Prominent Turkish historian İlber Ortaylı was among the guests of the religious ceremony. After the service, a crowd of priests and believers walked nearby the Golden Horn shore.
Ten people jumped into the sea to get a cross out of the sea, and Galip Yavuz, a member of the congregation, retrieved a wooden cross.
“I have been participating in the ceremony for the last five years. This is the first time I caught a cross,” Yavuz told reporters after he delivered the cross to the Patriarch.
Yavuz came second in last year’s race.
Apart from the Balat service, three other Epiphany celebrations were held simultaneously in the neighborhoods of Kuzguncuk and Yeşilköy and in Büyükada, the largest of the Princes’ Islands.