Eastern Orthodox believers brave cold for traditional dive


Eastern Europe


An Orthodox believer plunges into the icy water of Neva river during the traditional Epiphany celebrations in Saint Petersburg, on January 19, 2023. Photo AFP, Olga Maltseva

Every year, Eastern Orthodox believers, for example in Russia, celebrate the holiday of Epiphany on January 19. That means they have to dive into open water as the tradition requires.

The holiday of Epiphany is to commemorate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. As a symbol, religious Russians must dip three times below the surface of rivers, ponds or lakes, which are freezing cold in January, Moscow Times writes.

A Russian Orthodox priest blesses the water of a pond during the celebrations of the Orthodox Epiphany holiday, in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, Russia, 18 January 2023. People believe that dipping into blessed waters during the holiday of Epiphany strengthens their spirit and body. Photo EPA, Maxim Shipenkov

Most participants jump into the water at midnight, at the end of the 12-day Christmas period celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox Church, as reported by Euronews.

Valentyna Rudyk (86) bathes in the icy Siverskyi Donets river next to the Sviatohirsk Orthodox Christian Monastery during the Orthodox Epiphany celebration in the town of Svyatohirsk. Photo AFP, Anatolii Stepanov

The threefold dip symbolises the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

According to the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin also participated in the traditional dip. However, it did not release pictures of Putin doing so, as it did in earlier years.

A woman enters the water in a lake during the Orthodox Epiphany celebration in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on January 19, 2023. Photo AFP, Yuriv Dyachyshyn

Orthodox Christian churches do not all celebrate the holiday at the same day, Euronews writes. Russia, Ukraine and Serbia plunged into the icy waters on January 19, while Greeks, Bulgarians and Romanians already did so on January 6.



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