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Epiphany is celebrated with services, traditions and a joke

The Vatican Pope Francis celebrated Epiphany with a joke about camels and the more serious offer of food for some 300 homeless people.

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Epiphany is celebrated with services, traditions and a joke

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The Vatican

Pope Francis celebrated Epiphany with a joke about camels and the more serious offer of food for some 300 homeless people.

The pontiff gave away sandwiches and a drink to thank them for helping hand out pamphlets at the feast day service.

Francis, who has made the needy a focal point of his papacy, compared the leaflets to the gifts the three wise men are said to have brought for Jesus, joking that only the camels were missing.

Epiphany is observed globally within the Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox religions, to celebrate the day the wise men are thought to have visited the infant Christ with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Istanbul, Turkey

Orthodox Christians in Istanbul braved the winter temperatures to take part in the Epiphany tradition of plunging into the Golden Horn waterway.

At the yearly event, swimmers in Turkey’s most populous city must attempt to retrieve a wooden crucifix from the water.

Athens, Greece

Athens shares a similar custom.

For Greek Orthodox Christians, the ritual of throwing a cross into the water is representative of the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.

The crucifix is blessed by a priest first and is believed to bring luck to those who retrieve it.

Spyros Petropoulos, 33, was one of two men to win the competition this year.

“I’ve dived for the past three years and finally this year I got it – of course with the young man here – and I think we are very pleased, both of us,” he told reporters.