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Russians plunge into icy waters to mark the new year Thousands of people jumped in frigid waters all across Russia to mark the celebration of the Russian Orthodox Epiphany.
In Russia according to Orthodox tradition priests first blessed the water in the hole cut in frozen rivers, lakes before believers could take the holy bath.
The age-old ritual commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, or the Epiphany, which the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates on 19 January, in the middle of the Russian winter.
By bathing on this day, believers symbolically wash off their sins. They also believe the dip in the cold is good for their health. Religion aside, Russians have long believed in the beneficial effects of bathing in freezing water. Many do so throughout the winter, earning them the nickname of "morzhi," or walruses.
In the most of Eastern Russia the temperatures are usually plummeting below 50 degrees Celsius in some parts of Siberia, but that did not put of the believers from their annual bath.
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