On Sunday, January 8, 2017, the traditional celebration of Epiphany and the Blessing of the Waters Ceremony was conducted at Yarra Bay, in Sydney, Australia, with thousands of faithful in attendance.
Epiphany celebrations take place throughout the Greek Orthodox world with a priest or bishop tossing a cross into the water, which is usually retrieved by the young men of the community.
Some communities have begun including women and girls in their celebrations and elsewhere, particularly in the United States and Canada where lakes and rivers are frozen this time of year, a hole is cut into the ice and the waterways are blessed by the clergy.
The blessings symbolize the baptism of Jesus Christ which is celebrated on Epiphany.
The ceremony was officiated by Bishop Seraphim of Apollonia with the participation of all the clergy of the Sydney area.
During the ceremony, the bishop threw the cross into the water and approximately 180 young men attempted to retrieve it.
The cross was retrieved by Nicholas Pavlakis from St. Spyridon Parish in Sydney.
Following the ceremony, the traditional festival took place, with entertainment, live music, dancing and food until late afternoon.
Sydney photographer Nick Bourdos captured some of the most stunning images we’ve ever seen from Sydney’s Epiphany celebration.