Swimmers take part in Epiphany competitions

The Serbian Orthodox Church celebrated Epiphany with liturgies and swimming competitions where participants recovered the Holy Cross from rivers and lakes.


SPC Patriarch Irinej held a liturgy at the Church of St Nicholas in Zemun, followed by the traditional swimming for the Holy Cross in the Danube.

The number of competitors in Zemun was record this year, 367, with the youngest aged 10 and the oldest 83. The first one to reach the cross was Dejan Dimitrijević, a water polo player from Belgrade.

The race for the cross was held at Ada Ciganlija on the Sava River and three other locations in Belgrade. The contestants included civilian citizens, members of the Armed Forces, the Gendarmerie and Svibor, an organization that fosters Serbian medieval traditions.

Similar races were held at 70 other locations in Serbia, including in Kosovo, as well as in the Serb Republic in Bosnia, in Montenegro and among Serbs living abroad, Tanjug reported.

The ritual was banned in the former Yugoslavia during the communist rule, and reintroduced in Serbia in 1997.

The holiday is also observed by the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Mount Athos in Greece.


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