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Orthodox Christians Celebrate Epiphany Day by Plunging into Icy Waters

  • Veronica Neffinger

    Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the…

  • 2016 Jan 21

Yesterday, on January 19, many Orthodox Christians celebrated Epiphany Day by taking frigid plunges in lakes and ponds to commemorate Jesus’ baptism.

According to Christian Today, Orthodox Christians in Russia and the Ukraine celebrate Epiphany Day yearly by plunging into holes cut into the thick ice of lakes and ponds. The holes in the ice are often cut out in the shape of Christian or Orthodox crosses.

Even though the weather in Russia and the Ukraine was below zero in many places, Orthodox Christians jumped into icy waters at midnight on Epiphany Day while a priest said a prayer.

In Moscow’s Revolution Square, Russian Liberal Democratic Party Leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky led the Epiphany Day celebration. Tubs filled with ice water were placed in the square to represent the icy waters of lakes.

Christian Today notes that while Russian Orthodox Christians follow the Julian Calendar and celebrate Epiphany day on January 19, other Orthodox Christians such as the Greeks, Bulgarians, or the Czech, celebrate it on January 6.

“There are some hardy swimmers who don their swimsuits for an early morning cold drip every year in the Serpentine of London's Hyde Park on Christmas Day,'' according to Mirror UK. "It's a freezing adventure with temperatures often dipping below zero at the time of year.''

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Publication date: January 21, 2016