It's not Epiphany without a nice, cold swim

This festival is also known as the “Day of Enlightenment,” and the “Day of Lights” because people want to join the church are traditionally baptized on the eve of this festival – in essence, this is spiritual enlightenment. (Moscow region, Russia)

This festival is also known as the “Day of Enlightenment,” and the “Day of Lights” because people want to join the church are traditionally baptized on the eve of this festival – in essence, this is spiritual enlightenment. (Moscow region, Russia)

Ria Novosti
In the middle of winter holes are cut in the ice and thousands of Russian Orthodox Christians gather to submerge themselves in the freezing water to mark the festival of the Epiphany.
In the middle of winter holes are cut in the ice and thousands of Russian Orthodox Christians gather to submerge themselves in the freezing water to mark the festival of the Epiphany. (Tverskaya oblast, Russia)
The Baptism of Christ, also known as the Epiphany, is one of the 12 main Orthodox festivals, and it is traditionally celebrated on Jan. 19. (Moskovskaya oblast, Russia)
On the eve of the Epiphany, it is customary for Orthodox Christians to plunge into the frozen water. (Leningradskaya oblast, Russia)
Priests and regular believers from many different churches go down to a lake or a river, where a hole has been cut into the ice in the shape of a cross. This opening in the ice is called a “jordan,” in honor of the holy River Jordan, in which Jesus was baptized. (Vologda region, Russia)
People climb down into the jordan on a small wooden ladder until they are half submerged, then they make the sign of the cross before fully submerging themselves in the water three times. (Volgograd region, Russia)
In Russia the temperature tends to drop around the time of the Epiphany, and both believers and non-believers alike refer to this time of year as the “Epiphany frosts.” (Novgorodskaya oblast, Russia)
But despite the freezing temperatures, people believe that plunging into freezing waters at the Epiphany is not going to do you any harm, in fact, it is said to strengthen the body and improve the health. (Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia)
You can even go in the water at -40ºC, because the whole process only takes about 5-6 minutes, and no organ in the human body is going to have time to get cold. When a person is in the cold water all his or her blood is redistributed around the body, and this is actually good for the health. (Moscow region, Russia)
Those who are frightened or who are unable to submerge themselves in the water are told not to worry – there is nothing in the rules of the Orthodox Church saying that every good Christian has to bathe outdoors to mark the Epiphany. (Saint Petersburg region, Russia)
The winter plunge is just one of several Epiphany traditions: In the churches across the city, a service continues throughout the day, in which holy water is blessed by the priests. This water is then preserved in churchgoers’ homes until the next Epiphany. (Moscow region, Russia)
Russian Orthodox Christians also call this festival the “Manifestation of God,” since according to the Gospels, all three part of the Holy Trinity were present in that moment: the voice of God the Father came down from the heavens, the Son of God was christened, and the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove. (Saint Petersburg region, Russia)
This festival is also known as the “Day of Enlightenment,” and the “Day of Lights” because people want to join the church are traditionally baptized on the eve of this festival – in essence, this is spiritual enlightenment. (Moscow region, Russia)

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