Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate Epiphany, swim for cross
(6 Jan 2010) SHOTLIST
1. Various of people in street
2. Tilt down of church entrance
3. Interior of church with congregation
4. Various of Patriarch Bartholomew I during service
5. Mid of congregation
6. Patriarch Bartholomew I blessing worshippers
7. Clergy members chanting
8. SOUNDBITE (Turkish) Vasili Kurkcu, member of congregation:
"I proud of today, this tradition is still important for us and to be a Greek person who lives in Turkey, I''m also proud of this."
9. Various of crowd waiting for the Patriarch
10. SOUNDBITE (Turkish) Yani Galici, worshipper:
"It is such an important day for the Orthodox and it is a tradition for over 2000 years. Throwing the cross into the sea is a symbol of Jesus'' baptism."
11. Patriarch, clergy members and congregation exiting church
12. Various of the Patriarch and entourage walking along street
13. Various of the Patriarch by the Horn, surrounded by people
14. Mid of men on boat
15. Patriarch throwing crucifix into sea
16. Men diving into sea
17. Men swimming
18. Man grabbing crucifix and kissing it
19. Swimmers being helped out of the water
20. SOUNDBITE (English) Panayotis Uzinos, diver who retrieved the cross:
"I am very happy because Patriarch Bartholomew and me, we are from the same island, so I am two times happy."
21. Patriarch blessing Uzinos
About a dozen Greek Orthodox Christians competed in the freezing waters of Istanbul''s Golden Horn to retrieve a wooden cross in a ceremony on Wednesday, commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ.
Some 100 Greek Orthodox gathered on the shores of the Horn, a four-and-a-half-mile (7 kilometre) arm of the Bosporus, to celebrate Epiphany with the ceremony of Blessing the Waters.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world''s estimated 300 (m) million Orthodox Christians, led the liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George, before heading a procession to the shores of the Horn.
Bartholomew I, who is based in Istanbul, threw a gold-painted wooden cross into the water.
Panayotis Uzinos out swam the other competitors and was first to reach the cross, which he kissed then waved above his head as worshippers applauded.
The Patriarchate has remained in Istanbul since the Byzantine Empire, although the Greek community in the city has dwindled to a few thousand over the past century.
The dive is an annual tradition among Greek Orthodox Christians in Turkey.
The festival of Epiphany marks the 12 days of Christmas, also known as Feast of Epiphany and Three Kings Day.
But for other Orthodox Christians, as in Russia, Serbia, the Holy Land, Egypt and other Eastern Orthodox churches, the Epiphany is celebrated on the 19th as their Christmas falls on 7 January.
It is because those other Orthodox branches retained the Julian calendar for its liturgical schedule, while other branches of the Christian church follow the Gregorian calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1500.
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