Orthodox observe Epiphany with mass ice water dips


RIA Novosti, 19 January 2016


About 80,000 believers participated in Epiphany bathing on the territory of Moscow province without untoward incidents, a representative of the regional office of emergency services told RIA Novosti.


The day of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated by Orthodox Christians on 19 January (6 January, old style). Baptism (or Epiphany) is on a par with Easter as one of the most ancient Christian feasts and in Russia it is traditionally accompanied by mass bathing in icy water in specially chopped out and illuminated holes.


The tradition of swimming on Epiphany exists among Orthodox Christians in memory of the River Jordan, in whose waters John the Forerunner baptized Jesus Christ. Priests and parishioners of many churches make their way to a pond where the ice has been previously cut out (usually in the form of a cross) and they immerse themselves in the water with a prayer three times.


"Almost 80,000 persons participated in Epiphany bathing in the Moscow region. Thanks to the coordinated work of all agencies, unfortunate incidents were avoided," the news agency's source said, adding that 208 sites for bathing had been prepared and lifeguards, police, and medics were on duty at each of them. In all, the safety of people in Moscow province was assured by more than 3,000 specialists and 856 emergency crews. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 January 2016)



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