Drepano (and the Epiphany), Greece – Jan 2018

Today was my fourth day in Drepano. I’ll be staying another night but, thereafter, I must move on or, at this rate, I’ll not leave Greece at all.

I mentioned the other day that I couldn’t find my intended campsite when I arrived in Drepano. It’s actually right next door to where I have been staying the last few days (but I didn’t realise that until recently). The site I am parked up on, Camping New Triton, is officially closed for the Winter and not scheduled to open until April but the operators, the family Christopoulos, overlooked this fact after I mistakenly pulled up at their site and hooked up to their electricity supply. If that wasn’t enough Yorgos Christopolous then invited me to sit with his family and partake of the local wine. The generosity of the Greek people surpasses all expectations and this is particularly true of Yorgos and family who have since shared Tsipouro with me (I’m developing a taste for it) and presented me with kilos of oranges, mandarins and tangerines. Thank you, Yorgos, Sofia, Vasiliki and Vagelis. Thank you Camping New Triton.

The Epiphany or Fota, is a particularly important day in the Greek Orthodox Calendar (so much so that it is a public holiday throughout Greece) and, today, it was celebrated on the beach just outside of Camping New Triton in some style.

For those who don’t know, Epiphany is considered the anniversary of when Jesus Christ was baptised and it is celebrated every January 6.  January 6 is also a Saint’s Day in Greece (for a certain Agia Theofania whom I know nothing about except that he was a man). As if that is not reason enough to celebrate, January 6 is also the day when the “kalitkatzari” (hobgoblins) that appear over the Christmas period and live in some of the Christmas decorations (particularly the holly and the ivy and other green bits) are sent back from whence they came by the Church. This is so in the UK too and it is why we are supposed to take our (green) Christmas decorations down before the 12th day of Christmas ends (January 5) and Epiphany begins (January 6). Bad luck for the rest of the year if you don’t.

In Greece, during Epiphany, waters are blessed and all evil spirits are banished (the baptism of Jesus helps explain the day’s association with water) and at seaside, lakeside and riverside locations across the country, priests throw a cross into the water and young locals compete to catch it both for the privilege and a blessing. The same happened in Drepano today and a very joyful affair it was too.

A table was set up on the beach for the priest very early in the day…a number of contestants started to assemble, as did the dignitaries and a sizeable crowd of observers

… before I knew it the cross/crucifix was thrown into the water and retrieved by the biggest and strongest swimmer (no surprises there then!), who promptly returned it to the Priest…while the crowd cheered and a passing boat set off flares and sounded it’s klaxon in celebration and … is that Nadia to the left of the second photo?

Blessings followed; first the young man who had retrieved the cross and then any and all of those who joined the celebration and wanted to be blessed...

… and, at the end, there was still time available for the Priest to take “selfies” with his pals…

I almost forgot. I promised to tell you about Vivari and it’s fish restaurants. About half of the restaurants in Vivari are open at this time of the year and the speciality of all, not surprisingly, is fish. I had a fine meal last night; it was so good that I walked back to the village after this morning’s religious celebrations to take my lunch there. The setting and the food was special…

Vivari and it’s Bay… 

The local dry white wine and Prawn Saganaki (freshly caught prawns cooked in cheese, onions, tomatoes and chilli)… 

I don’t have the words to adequately describe how pleasant it was sitting on the beach in the sunshine, right by the waters edge, eating and drinking such a fine meal. It was followed by a large tsipouro.

I favour the tsipouro without any anise.

One thought on “Drepano (and the Epiphany), Greece – Jan 2018”

  1. Looks superb. What a location. There was a ceremony at Margate as well but a designated boy retrieved the cross. Sea was rough so he only got his knees wet!

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