Photos: Blessing of the Seas ceremony at Margate 2024

Blessing of the Seas 2024 Photo Frank Leppard

Photos Frank Leppard

The annual Blessing of the Seas ceremony took place in Margate today (January 7).

The event is a Greek Orthodox celebration at Epiphany marking 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.

Photo Frank Leppard

It’s organised by the local Greek Orthodox Church, the community of the Archangel Michael, whose Archbishop leads the devotions.

A dove was released, prayers given and a decorated cross hurled into the waters and retrieved by a young diver.

Photo Frank Leppard

The procession started from the church and made its way to Margate Main Sands for the service.

Photo Frank Leppard

This was officiated by Chancellor of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira & Great Britain Very Revd Fr Nephon and guests included Sir Roger Gale MP, Cyprus High Commission in the UK Consul General Odysseas Odysseos, civic leaders including Margate mayor and mayoress Cllr Rob Yates and Iris Johnston, and Greek church members.

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The ceremony was followed by a lunch at St Augustine’s  in Westgate.

13 Comments

  1. Interesting tradition. When we lived in Islington we had a very large Greek Cypriot community though many of them did quite well and moved to the suburbs. We obviously didn’t have a sea coast so great to see Margate still hosting this tradition!

    • When Greeks were first looking to move to the UK as a result of the Cypriot Crisis, they sent a few folks over to find a suitable town. They came in the summer and found Margate most like their homeland, plus there was a small Greek community already here. In ’64 they opened the first Greek Orthodox Church in the UK in Westbrook.
      They’ve been a great addition to our community, and frankly have done us proud. Margate in turn has become an important town in the UK Greek community, mention an association with Margate to any Greek elsewhere in the UK, and they’ll start to treat you as family…

    • Even the fish pee and poop in the sea, normal biodiversity. Cleaning up the water destroyed the fish breeding grounds in the 70’s and 80’s. Before that the shrimps prawns and worms fed on and disposed of the discharges. They were a great source of food for the breeding fish but once the chain was broken the large inshore fish stocks round Thanet disappeared.

  2. Fantastic traditional even for the Greek Orthodox community, shame the water company pump sewage into the sea in North Thanet, and central and local government let them. With little to no deterrent.

  3. I kept white doves in my garden for many years. They were free to fly off whenever they chose but always came home wherever they flew off to. The dove released was local and would have returned to its dovecote without any problem.

  4. Nice to see this tradition is still extant. It reminds me of when I was a 13-year-old washer upper at a Cypriot restaurant in York Street Ramsgate in the mid 60s.

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