Christians around the world commemorate the Epiphany

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Christians around the world commemorated the Epiphany with a series of celebrations on Thursday, known as the Day of the Magi for Catholics and the Baptism of Christ for the Orthodox.

Pope Francis officiated at Mass from St. Peter’s Basilica and condemned consumerism, while last night there were parades in Spain and Orthodox believers saw swimmers plunge into icy waters to retrieve crosses.

Francis encouraged people to shed consumerist “tyranny” and crises of faith and instead find the courage to work for justice and brotherhood in societies dominated by what he called the “sinister logic of power.”

The Catholic feast of the Epiphany recalls the visit of three wise men, or wise men, to the child Jesus.

In his homily, Francis urged people to overcome the “barriers of habit, beyond banal consumerism.” He also highlighted the celebrations of other Christians. “Today’s thoughts go to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, who will celebrate the Lord’s birthday tomorrow,” said the pontiff.

In Istanbul, the leader of the Orthodox Christians, the ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew, celebrated the Epiphany mass before leading the traditional ceremony of blessing the waters, during which several swimmers compete to recover a floating cross thrown into the sea.

Bartolomé recently recovered from COVID-19 and underwent heart surgery in November.

In Bulgaria, thousands of Orthodox Christians ignored recommendations to avoid crowds due to COVID-19 and plunged into frozen rivers and lakes.

In contrast, celebrations have been canceled or reduced in many parts of Greece, as the country battles a large increase in infections caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

In Cyprus, onlookers stayed away from the pier, in accordance with coronavirus restrictions, while a score of people dove into the cold waters of Larnaca Bay, on the south coast of the island, to retrieve the cross thrown by the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Chrysostom II. Most of the people watched the ceremony from a distance.

In Spain, a military band played the national anthem in front of the palace in Madrid and King Felipe VI observed a 21-gun salute before reviewing the troops on a wintry day. Inside, in the Throne Room, the monarch presented medals to 16 members of the armed forces, in a ceremony dating back to 1782. Attendance at the event was limited for the second year in a row due to pandemic restrictions. The royal family, dignitaries and troops wore masks.

The country held parade parades the day before Epiphany where people dressed as the Three Wise Men travel in floats through the main cities and towns of Spain. Kids and adults alike drop off their shoes the night before and receive gifts on January 6.

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