RELIGION
01/20/2015 05:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Icy Faces: Eastern Orthodox Christians Take Chilly Epiphany Plunge

Eastern Orthodox Christians took an icy plunge on Sunday to mark the Epiphany feast.

Thousands of faithful Orthodox Christians in Russia, Ukraine, and other countries shed their clothes and armed themselves with bravery before diving into icy rivers and ponds to participate in the ancient cleansing tradition, RT reports.

The ritual commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River. Water blessed by a priest during the Epiphany services is thought to have healing properties.

In Moscow, an estimated 160,000 participated this year, even though the temperatures dipped as low as 3 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, according to Getty.

The traditional date for Epiphany is January 6 on the Gregorian calendar, but Eastern churches following the Julian calendar observe the feast on January 19, according to the Telegraph.

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