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Bulgarians Celebrate Epiphany With An Icy Dip Seeking Crucifix (PHOTOS)

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BULGARIA EPIPHANY
A Bulgarian boy holds a wooden cross during the traditional dance in the icy winter waters of the Tundzha river in the town of Kalofer, as part of the Epiphany Day celebrations on January 6, 2014. As a tradition, an Eastern Orthodox priest throws a cross in the river and it is believed that the one who retreives it will be healthy through the year as well as all those who dance in the icy waters AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV (Photo credit should read NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images) | NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV via Getty Images

Thousands of young men are plunging into icy rivers and lakes across Bulgaria to retrieve crucifixes cast by priests in an old ritual marking the feast of Epiphany.

By tradition, a wooden cross is cast into the water and it is believed that the person who retrieves it will be freed from evil spirits.

In the central city of Kalofer, 350 men in traditional dress waded into the icy Tundzha River with national flags. Led by the town's mayor and encouraged by a folk orchestra and homemade plum brandy, they dance and stomp the rocky riverbed.

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