Blessing of the Waters by a Greek Orthodox Priest here on Crete...

This Blessing of the Waters (Agiasmos) page is from the People and Culture section of the Completely Crete website.

The wonderful Greek Island of Crete has a fascinating culture and its people are predominantly from the Greek Orthodox faith.

The wonderful Greek Island of Crete has a fascinating culture and its people are predominantly from the Greek Orthodox faith.

Blessing of the Waters (Agiasmos)


There are three kinds of Blessing of Waters ceremonies carried out by a Greek Orthodox priest. The first is the blessing of waters at baptism.

Next comes the greater blessing of waters known as Megas Agiasmos which is conducted at the Feast of the Theophany known as Epiphany.

And next is the Lesser Blessing of Waters known as Mikros Agiasmos which is performed throughout the year by the Greek Orthodox priest in a Church, at homes, schools, businesses, tavernas, restaurants or even in olive groves or to bless fishing boats.


We've been present at a couple of blessing of the waters ceremonies and the most recent of which was at the grand opening of the Aphrodite Restaurant in Kalyves here on the Greek Island of Crete.

The local Patera (Greek Orthodox priest) was invited to conduct the Agiasmos at the Aphrodite Restaurant.

A table was set up for him in the centre of the restaurant to act as a makeshift altar. The essential items of a huge bowl of water, a religious Icon, a censer for incense and a bunch of basil were placed strategically at their appropriate position on the central table.

Locals, tourists, customers, staff and a local TV news film crew all watched in silent reverence as the priest first blessed the water. After 5 minutes or so of chanting and prayers the priest then dunked the basil into the water and then sprinkled the water from the basil onto the silent throng.


The religious significance of basil is linked with the belief that the herb was found growing on the original cross of Christ. Known as King of the Herbs basil comes from the Greek word basileus meaning "King'.

The congregation then lined up to receive a personal blessing from the Priest which required them to kiss a small crucifix that the Priest was holding. The Greek Orthodox Priest then in turn made the sign of the cross across the forehead of the person wanting the blessing with the basil.

After everyone was blessed the bowl of now blessed water was removed to the kitchen of the restaurant. Where doubtless it will be drunk or used for more blessings throughout the year.


In the true spirit of kerasma (meaning to offer treats and share generously) the amassed throng were treated to some lovely sweet pastries at the end of the Blessings of the Water religious ceremony.

The notion of kerasma is a natural part of Cretan life as their generosity and hospitality are renowned.

We felt it a little amusing that here was a Christian priest conducting a highly ritualised religious ceremony to consecrate and bless an establishment dedicated to a Pagan goddess - Aphrodite.

You can watch this short video of the blessing:

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