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Russian Orthodox Believers Take Icy Plunge
Thousands of people have jumped into freezing waters all across Russia to mark the Russian Orthodox Epiphany.
In Moscow, according to Orthodox tradition, priests first blessed the water in a hole cut in the frozen Moscow River before believers could take the holy bath.
The ritual commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, or the Epiphany, which the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates on January 19, in the middle of winter.
By bathing on this day, believers symbolically wash off their sins, but many also believe the cold water is good for their health.
"In the beginning, you go in and it's cold," said one man, dressed in a white robe and wearing a cross.
"But after getting in the water becomes hot immediately. In general the water is hot, not cold," he said after coming up from his plunge in the river's icy water.
Elena, a Muscovite, said she liked the way she felt after taking the icy plunge. "Well, it's cold, but then it becomes great, really light in your spirit and warm," she said.
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.
Temperatures in Moscow on Saturday hovered around minus 13C.