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A bath in icy waters: this is how Russians celebrate the Epiphany, an Orthodox religious tradition

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Manish Saini
Manish works as a Journalist and writer at Revyuh.com. He has studied Political Science and graduated from Delhi University. He is a Political engineer, fascinated by politics, and traditional businesses. He is also attached to many NGO's in the country and helping poor children to get the basic education. Email: Manish (at) revyuh (dot) com

Every year on the night of January 18-19, Orthodox believers in Russia plunge into icy waters. This tradition symbolizes the baptism of Jesus Christ and it is believed that this event washes away the sins of those who perform it.

This year Russia has recorded a record of quite low temperatures, even in the capital Moscow. However, this will not be an impediment for thousands of Orthodox believers to comply with the annual religious tradition of Epiphany.

Every year the local authorities of different cities enable certain points in rivers, lakes and lagoons that at this time are usually with the frozen surface, that is why the preparation of this commemoration takes time since the ice sheet is usually perforated in the form of a cross turning the place into a kind of a small frozen pool.

Everything is very organized, even temporary changing rooms are set up very close to the place for the believers to change before diving into the icy water in a bathing suit and diving three times crossing themselves and then quickly getting out of the water.

In addition to Orthodox priests, paramedics and ambulances work on-site to prevent any kind of decompensation, and police officers to ensure the safety of this celebration.

Over the years, this religious tradition has become popular and has spread beyond believers, since in many cases foreigners of other religions tend to participate because from their perspective this tradition is quite unusual.   

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