Over the weekend Epiphany celebrations were in full swing around the world as people came out in their droves to mark the Christian festival.
The most striking celebrations happened in the village of Vale de Salgueiro in Portugal, where shocking pictures showed youngsters puffing away after being offered the addictive tobacco products by their parents.
The local tradition dictates that children as young as five are permitted to smoke on the special occasion, despite the legal buying age for tobacco being eighteen.
Every year the event, dubbed the King’s Feast, draws outrage and strong criticism from outsiders. But despite the annual backlash, parents have continued to honor the allegedly centuries-old tradition by purchasing packets of cigarettes for their kids.
The practice is technically legal in the country as nothing in the law prohibits parents giving children cigarettes and authorities do not intervene to stop them.
A King is appointed every year, according to custom, and is responsible for organizing all the Epiphany celebrations for the village. This year’s King is a man called Alexandre Taveira.
The celebrations see locals, both adults and children, singing, dancing and smoking in the streets of Vale de Salgueiro.
Epiphany, according to Orthodox tradition, marks the day that Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. It is celebrated in many parts of the globe, with traditional celebrations held in Europe, Africa (Zimbabwe not one of them) and the Middle East. Christians in many parts of the world marked the day in a number of different ways.
A hot-button issue itself, this practice raises the specter of why locals at Vale de Salgueiro have adopted the harmful smoking practice as part of the celebrations as its symbolism is shrouded in secrecy.
At the Vatican Pope Francis marked the holy event with a Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on January 6. He advised against making the pursuit of money, a career or success the basis for one’s whole life, urging followers to resist any ‘inclinations toward arrogance, the thirst for power and for riches.’
The Pope also said people ‘often make do’ with having ‘health, a little money and a bit of entertainment.’ But he urged people around the world to do more to help the poor and others in need of assistance, telling them to give freely without expecting anything in return.
In Russia, Orthodox Christian believers crowded into churches to stand shoulder-by-shoulder for Christmas Eve midnight Masses. The Russian Orthodox, like several other Orthodox denominations, observes Christmas on January 7.
President Vladimir Putin attended a Mass at the Church of Sts. Simeon and Anna in St. Petersburg, his hometown. State television channels showed a live broadcast of the Mass from Moscow’s enormous and elaborate Christ the Savior Cathedral.
In Australia, Greek priests came together in a parade to celebrate the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day festival at Yarra Bay in Sydney. As part of their celebrations, male participants wait to receive a gift and kiss the hand of the Bishop.
There were also a series of celebrations across the United States to mark this year’s Epiphany, and Florida and Pennsylvania had the most lauded ones.
Source: Daily Mail UK