Russian Orthodox take icy plunges to celebrate Epiphany

January 19, 2010
Russian Orthodox believers washed away their sins by taking a plunge into icy waters on the feast of the Epiphany, which fell on Monday according to the Orthodox calendar.  The traditional triple dip commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan.  Here are several Reuters photographs and a Reuters video of Russians braving the winter cold to perform the ritual.
dip 1

A man prepares to dip in icy waters during an Orthodox Epiphany celebration, with the air temperature at about -26 degrees Celsius ( -14.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in Pereslavl-Zalessky, some 140 km (87 miles) northeast of Moscow January 19, 2010/Sergei Karpukhin

dip 2

A man gets out of the water during an Orthodox Epiphany celebration, with air temperature at about -24 degrees Celsius (-11.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in Suzdal, some 200 km (124 miles) northeast of Moscow January 19, 2010/Denis Sinyakov

dip 3

A man helps a woman out of the Bazaikha river during Orthodox Epiphany celebrations, with air temperature at about -28 degrees Celsius (-18.4 degrees Fahrenheit), in the suburbs of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk January 19, 2010/Ilya Naymushin

dip 4

A man dips in icy waters during an Orthodox Epiphany celebration, with air temperature at about -24 degrees Celsius (-11.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in Rostov, some 200 km (124 miles) northeast of Moscow January 19, 2010/Sergei Karpukhin

dip 5

A man prepares to dip into the Ob River in Russia's Siberian city of Novosibirsk, with the air temperature at about minus 30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit), during an Orthodox Epiphany celebration, January 19, 2010/Alexei Yefimov

A woman warms up after a dip in icy waters during an Orthodox Epiphany celebration, in the main Altai city of Barnaul, January 19, 2010. Orthodox believers mark Epiphany on January 19 by immersing themselves in icy waters regardless of the weather and subzero temperatures. REUTERS/Andrei Kasprishin

A woman warms up after a plunge in icy waters during an Orthodox Epiphany celebration, in the main Altai city of Barnaul, January 19, 2010/Andrei Kasprishin

A man dips into the icy waters of the Moskva River in Moscow during an Orthodox Epiphany celebration, January 19, 2010. Orthodox believers mark Epiphany on January 19 by immersing themselves in icy waters regardless of the weather. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin (RUSSIA - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY)

A man braves the Moskva River in Moscow during an Orthodox Epiphany celebration, January 19, 2010/Alexander Natruskin

Men help a woman out of the icy waters of the Bazaikha river during Orthodox Epiphany celebrations, with air temperature at about -28 degrees Celsius (-18.4 degrees Fahrenheit), in the suburbs of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk January 19, 2010. Orthodox believers mark Epiphany on January 19 by immersing themselves in icy waters regardless of the weather. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

Men help a woman out of the Bazaikha river during Orthodox Epiphany celebrations, with air temperature at about -28 degrees Celsius (-18.4 degrees Fahrenheit), in the suburbs of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk January 19, 2010/Ilya Naymushin

Here’s the video:

Russian Orthodox pilgrims also took the Epiphany dip at the River Jordan, where the temperatures were much warmer. Our Jerusalem bureau chief Alastair Macdonald accompanied a group to the area said to be where Jesus was baptised. Pilgrims from the Jordanian side were allowed to wade into the river, but Israeli police made sure the faithful on their side had to content themselves with dips in basins marked “Jordan Water: Not Drinking.”

dip 9

An Orthodox pilgrim dunks himself in water from the Jordan River during a ceremony at the baptismal site known as Qasr el-Yahud on banks of the Jordan River near the West Bank city of Jericho January 18, 2010/Ronen Zvulun

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