Olympic flame was lit in ancient Olympia today and started its journey to London for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Tradition has it, that since the theft of the holy fire of the Zeus by Prometheus, a sacred flame is lit by the sun’s rays in Olympia and kept burning throughout the Olympic Games. The tradition continues today.
The High Priestess, Ino Menegaki explains the the ritual of the Lighting as: “It starts with the procession of the priestesses from the Altar of Hera, in front of the goddess’s temple. Dressed in archaic-style clothing, priestesses surround the Altar while the High-priestess, invoking god Apollo, lights the torch, using a concave mirror. According to the Myth of Promytheus, the fire is the symbol of life, rationalism and freedom as well as inventiveness and so had been the ageless flame that used to burn on the Altar of Prytaneion in Ancient Olympia.Then, the High Priestess relays the flame in a small ceramic pot and heads to the Stadium with all priestesses in procession. They pass by the Olive Tree, where they stand for a moment and “Amphithalis Pais”, the young boy (whose both parents are alive) cuts off an olive branch, as a symbol of peace and a meaningful winner’s prize. When the procession arrives at the Stadium, the High Priestess lights the torch of the first runner and the torch relay begins. The Olympic flame travels to many places and becomes the connecting bond among people, sending the message of hope.”
The Olympic flame is first carried by swimming world champion Spyros Gianniotis and it will travel across Greece for 8 days. The Flame will finally arrive to Athens, pass through the Acropolis Museum, Zappeion and will be delivered to the British organizers followed by the ceremonies in the Panathenaic Stadium at 7:00pm on May 17.