Epiphany is one of the main Christian holidays. The holiday begins in the night of January 18 when all Orthodox Christians celebrate the Epiphany Eve.
In Russian orthodox christians the Epiphany Day is associated with sanctifying the water, including natural reservoirs. The sanctified water is believed to heal and wash away any sins, as well as dark spirits, walking around on the earth surface during Yule festival. Epiphany bathing is performed as a sacred act of cleaning and renewal.
As the holiday is associated with severe colds, all natural reservoirs are generally frozen by that time of the year. Therefore, cross-shaped holes are cut in the ice. These are named Jordan – after the river between Israel and Jordan.
The bathing should be performed at night, when the outside temperature is the coldest – sometimes up to 30 degrees Celsius below zero, or even colder in the northern regions of Russia.
This year’s Epiphany eve turned out to bring really nasty weather to Vladivostok: the speed of the wind reached more than 30 meters per second, and the snow didn’t stop for two days. Nevertheless, many people still came to challenge their health by diving into ice-cold water.
It should be mentioned, that this quite dangerous activity is not very uncommon – even the non religious younger crowds sometimes do it as a daring act or just out of pure fun and curiosity. Let’s just hope that nobody catches a cold after this.