This is the day Greek Orthodox priests all around the country bless the waters , whether that be the sea, a lake, swimming pool or water tank. It is also a Public Holiday.
It maybe called the Epiphany, Day of the Three Kings and in Greece Theophany (celebrating the baptism of Christ in the river Jordan) or Ta Fota (the day of lights).
The island priests proceed to the harbour where they are taken out into the middle of the harbour on one of the car ferries. From here they conduct the blessing of the seas, throwing a big cross into the sea three times. The cross is attached to a long ribbon and the first two times it is reeled in. With the third throw a bunch of hardy young locals dive in and the first to reach the cross and retrieve it receives a blessing and a day of fame.
Once upon a time, in fact until the last two years, only young boys dived into the freezing sea but now there are always two or three girls who join the throng of swimmers.
My sister-in-law will bring home a small bottle of holy water to sprinkle round the home and she also gives me a small glass of this blessed water to sprinkle in the corners of the house and scare away the demons.
Everyone dresses up in their Sunday-going-to-church clothes and gathers in the cafeterias in the harbour to meet friends, drink an ouzo or two and watch to see who is diving into the waters this year. It is one of the busiest days of the year for the cafe owners and they have special mezes on the menu, maybe smoked herring salad on cubes of bread speared with a toothpick, small pieces of roast pork, octopus in vinegar, huge omelettes, for hungry drinkers, full of village sausage, spicy soudzouki and chunks of smelly local goats cheeses.
In days of old when life was good (and it still is good) a crowd of us would then drive on to the ferry boat and then down the coast to a big taverna on the sea called 'DirLaDa' (after a popular song). Here we would eat piles of greasy grilled lamb chops, litres of retsina to cut through all that fat, platters of fried potatoes and heaping greek salads. The lamb chops were absolute heaven, grilled with only a little salt, lemon juice and oregano. We were already merry from the ouzo and mezes and what followed was just the usual greek 'glendi' (party).
Many very happy greeks with grease dripping down their chins and on to the paper table cloths (and in my case all over the front of my blouse) would be raising their glasses to acquaintences at adjacent tables, yelling to the running waiter for another jug of wine, singing with eyes closed in emotion as their favourite song came over the loudspeaker, scolding children who ran in and out chasing cats and climbing up on the sea wall, embracing long lost friends and talking, discusing, expressing eloquent (after a few litres of retsina) opinions on all subjects from stewing a rooster to solving the Cyprus crisis (back then).
Now we go home and cook a chicken for the family on the economic woodfire.
Yesterday the children were out banging their triangles and singing more carols and earning more piles of small coins. Tomorrow is the big fiesta of St John, Agios Yiannis.
A Greek saying goes 'every house has a Yianni'. Even our house. So we'll be celebrating once again tomorrow.
Then there's carnival, clean Monday, smokey Thursday, Easter. Every day a reason to celebrate.