The Greek Orthodox feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th each year across the globe. Many would be surprised to learn that the festivities which take place every year in Tarpon Springs, Florida, are actually the largest Epiphany celebration anywhere in the world!
On Sunday, January 6, 2019, hundreds of people from the Greek Orthodox community will gather at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs for a traditional liturgy.
Following the service, hierarchs, clergy, dignitaries and tens of thousands of faithful will form a procession to Spring Bayou for the celebration. The number of participants is always greater than the entire population of the city, which is approximately 25,000!
The annual Feast of Epiphany celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ by Saint John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Each year, dozens of Greek-American teenage boys from 15-18 years of age participate in a dive to capture the cross in Spring Bayou.
The boys’ plunge into the water is reminiscent of Jesus entering the waters of the Jordan, and it is believed that the person who retrieves the cross will be blessed with good luck for the rest of the year. The Cross throw is scheduled for 1 PM this Sunday.
The dive is part of a two-day celebration filled with many religious and cultural events which St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Tarpon Springs has organized for the past 113 years.
Following the celebration of the “cross dive” is a Greek “Glenti” party with dancing, food, drink, and everything else you could possibly imagine that is Greek.
The Tarpon Springs celebration should be on the bucket list for anyone who has had enough of the wintry weather, so that they can come to sunny Florida and at the same time take part in this beautiful and meaningful Feast.