Ice Water Plunge for the Courageous

Plunging into the icy water in a river or a lake where the water blessing rite is administered by the Orthodox clergy on the day of Epiphany, January 19th (January 6th according to the Julian Calendar) has been popular in Russia since the years of yore. During the Communist era this was hardly possible – one would face a danger much more material than cold! – but nowadays local authorities in co-operation with the Church take necessary measures to make this winter fun safe and convenient for everyone, not excluding the elderly and kids.

Everyone is welcome on the ice, provided there are no medical reservations and anti-epidemic regulations are properly followed. Lifeguards and medical personnel are on duty at the sites of public water blessing on ponds, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and even on a sea shore. Over two million Russian Orthodox faithful yearly take the Epiphany ice water plunge.