The annual Blessing of the Seas ceremony has taken place in Margate today (January 7).
The Greek Orthodox celebration marks the Epiphany and the baptism of Christ.
Margate was chosen for the honour in the mid-20th century because there is a large community of Greek Cypriot residents in the town.
It’s organised by the Greek Orthodox Church whose Archishop leads the devotions and begins at the church of St Michael the Archangel. After a short service a procession of dignitaries in full regalia, both religious and civic, follows the piper to Marine Sands and the beach.
Doves are released, prayers given and a decorated cross is hurled into the waters to be retrieved by a young diver for the Archbishop.
This year’s ceremony was led by H.E. Archbishop Gregorios and attended by isle mayors and councillors, MPs Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale and dignitaries from across the county. It was followed by a lunch at the Winter Gardens.
Margate councillor Gary Taylor was one of those who attended the ceremony. He said: “It was a wonderful turn out from dignitaries from all over Kent.
“It’s the 54th Blessing of the Sea ceremony and is a very popular civic event for Margate. Well done to all that braved the sand blizzard by the Nayland Rock!”
It wasn’t cold, it was freezing!