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Video: Russians Really Do This To Celebrate Epiphany

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 01/22/15

Experiencing the icy waters of forgiveness and rebirth.

In the Orthodox Church in Russia, Epiphany is celebrated on January 19, which marks the baptism of Jesus. On the day, or the evening before, people visit frozen lakes and rivers which have often been cut into the shape of crosses before the priests bless the water. This is called the rite of the Great Blessing of the Waters. Participants dip themselves three times under the icy cold water, making the sign of the cross to honor the Holy Trinity—a symbol of washing away their sins from the past year and experiencing a sense of spiritual rebirth. 

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