Saturday, January 7, 2023

My Epiphany on Epiphany


According to Wikipedia (yes, I admit to being an unabashed fan), “An epiphany (from the ancient Greek πιφάνεια, epiphaneia, ‘manifestation, striking appearance’) is an experience of sudden and striking realization.”
Well, I just had one.  No, not of the religious sort celebrated yesterday (January 6). I described that observance here a few weeks back, but don't worry, no need to search it out because I repeat the relevant portions below.  I'm talking about an epiphany brought on by my last four days glued to the TV watching the US House of Representative's produce a real-life version of Bill Murray's film "Groundhog Day." 

Through twelve separate but virtually identical vote results, the House failed to elect Kevin McCarthy as Speaker. Yet he and his backers stayed the course, and through an amalgam of yet to be disclosed deals made with opponents among his own party, on the 13th vote he substantially reduced the number of his own party members voting against him––but still lost.  Late tonight (Friday) he lost again––by one vote––for the 14th time.  Will he try again––after midnight––for a 15th, 16th, 17th....  We'll see.  
Without an elected Speaker there are no rules governing the House, including those carefully limiting what real time video may be shown to the public of its representatives in action on the floor of the House.  For the past four days we've been privileged to see in action the villains and the virtuous, the hustlers and the hustled, the pugnacious and the pugilists, the nose-pickers and the pocket pickers. 

My epiphany came in the form of an observation attributed to many (including Albert Einstein) most likely shared by many who've watched the unfolding madness in Washington.

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
So, with that in mind, let's move on to yesterday's holiday of the epiphany––which has the identical root in Greek—that for most Christians generally falls on January 6th and concludes the Twelve Days of Christmas.  The Greeks usually refer to it as the “Feast of Theophany” (“God shining forth” or “divine manifestation”) or “Ta Fota” (“The Lights”) as it celebrates the baptism of Christ in what is one of the three Great Feast days of the year, ranking only behind Easter (Paska) and Pentecost.  Understandably, it is also a big day for baptisms.

In many parts of the world a Greek Orthodox priest performs the “Blessing of the Waters.”  Traditionally, it’s done twice: Once, on the eve of the Feast (generally at a baptismal font inside the church), and the next day at a river, sea, or lake, where at the end of the service a priest tosses the blessed cross into the water—launching a host of young men in after it in hopes of retrieving the cross and receiving a special blessing from the priest that will bring a year of good luck to the successful diver.

Epiphany is also the day for expelling kallikantzari from your home through a blessing from the priest and the sprinkling of Theophany blessed holy water. Kallikantzari are half-beast, half human, bad-spirited gremlins that try to slip into your house through a chimney to wreak havoc and mischief amid your home, livestock, and food between Christmas and Epiphany.  

During that twelve-day period virtually every Greek in one way or another engages in some superstitious practice—like wrapping a sprig of basil around a small wooden cross and suspending it over a bowl of water—and seeks a blessing from a priest.  Ultimately, the goal is to expel the kallikantzari before they can do serious damage, like saw through the huge tree on which rests the foundations of the world. 

Where the kallikantzari go for the rest of the year to do their harm is anybody’s guess.  Though from the way things are going in Washington these days, perhaps someone should think about checking out the House of Representatives.



  1. That last picture isn't a kallikantzari, Jeff. It's my great grandfather troll, Hrugnir.

    1. You're one lucky guy, Stan, to have emerged from another part of the gene pool.:)