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Ice Swimming for Russian Epiphany

19. January 2010 by Michelle 0 Comments

Many Russian Orthodox Christians braved the frigid temperatures last night, plunging into icy rivers for their traditional Epiphany celebration.

 

Photos show mostly men taking on this chilly challenge, but some strong Russian ladies have taken the plunge as well. Even children join in on the fun, but are quickly shocked by the frigid feeling.

 

Usually a cross is carved out of the ice so believers can jump into the freezing waters below, symbolizing the baptism of Jesus. This year, the temperature of the Moscow River is a brutal -25 degrees Celcius (-13 Fahrenheit).

 

The icy waters are blessed twice, first on Epiphany Eve inside churches, then again on Epiphany Day outdoors near the bathing spots. Some people fill a bottle with the holy water, while others take a deep breath and plunge right in, believing they are cleansing their sins.