Ethiopian Epiphany day in Athens

Epiphany day at the Ethiopian church in Athens. A different mass compared to the Western Christian ones, with lots of music and dancing.
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

It's five in the morning and I find myself waiting for the subway to start. 

I am going to Poligono, a suburb in Athens where I can find an Ethiopian church. 

The way to the church is uphill and it's raining at the same time. When I arrived, the Mass had already begun. I tried to open the door and heard someone yelling at me. I thought I was not welcomed, but he just wanted me to take my shoes off. 

The Mass starts at a low pace but soon it changes to a frenzy dance and music by traditional instruments. I was taken away by the rhythm. 

We got out to the yard of the church where there is a baptistery filled with water. The priest blesses the water and there is a ritual followed by music and dancing. The priests wear bright coloured vestments. 

After the priest blesses the water, he nods at me to protect my camera. He then takes a jug, fills it up with water and throws the water to the people. That water is now blessed, so everyone wants to get wet.

I was really intrigued by the Mass that took place inside the church. I think it is more close to the people, compared to our own (Christian Orthodox) that are more consequential and impersonal. I also found interesting the fact that the Christ appears dark skinned in the Icons, something that is not common to the Western Christian religions. 

#ethiopian #dance #christian #church #music #epiphany #religion


Ethiopian Epiphany day in Athens

12 Mpochali Athina
Athina, Attica, Greece