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More than 1.5 million believers from across the country took part in this year's Epiphany

Friday, January 19, 2018

© SPUTNIK/ ALEXEI DANICHEV

A participant of the St. Petersburg's Beauty contest reacts after taking a dip in icy water during traditional Epiphany bathing in Neva River on January 18, 2018.

As Russian Orthodox Christians celebrated one of their most important ancient holidays, hundreds of thousands braved the bitter cold to perform the traditional mass bathing ritual to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ in the waters of the Jordan River.

© SPUTNIK/ ALEXEI DANICHEV
Five Russian models, participants of the St. Petersburg's Beauty contest, took part in traditional swimming on Epiphany Eve in the Neva River, St. Petersburg. They believe this ritual helps to strengthen body and spirit.

More than 1.5 million believers from across the country reportedly took part in this year's Epiphany, taking an icy plunge in rivers, lakes and seas on Thursday night, the eve of the major religious holiday.

About 2,500 police officers, divers, rescue and medical workers, as well as some 700 volunteers and psychologists assisted participants of the ritual in the Russian capital.

© SPUTNIK/ EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA
Believers plunge into a pool carved out of the ice during traditional bathing at the Valdai Iversky Monastery in Russia’s Novgorod Region on Epiphany Eve, January 18, 2018.

© SPUTNIK/ VITALY ANKOV
A man participates in traditional swimming on Epiphany Day, January 19, 2018, at the Solovei-Klyuch Lake in Nadezhdinsky District of Primorsky Kray, Russia.

© SPUTNIK/ ALEXEI DANICHEV
A participant of the St. Petersburg's Beauty contest during annual swimming in the Neva River, St. Petersburg, Russia, on Epiphany Eve, January 18, 2018.

© SPUTNIK/ ALEXEY DRUZHININ
Russian President Vladimir Putin also took a plunge in an ice-hole during a traditional celebration of the Orthodox Epiphany on the night of January 18-19 at St. Nilus Stolobensky Monastery on Lake Seliger in Tver Region.

© SPUTNIK/ ALEXEY MALGAVKO
Archpriest Vyacheslav Kostenko performs a consecration ritual on Epiphany Eve, January 18, 2018, in the Cossack Bay in Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia.

© SPUTNIK/ ALEXANDER KRYAZHEV
Believers bathe in the icy waters of Holy Spring in Iskitimsky District of Novosibirsk Region on January 18, 2018, Epiphany Eve.

© SPUTNIK/ ALEXEI DANICHEV
A participant of the St. Petersburg's Beauty contest during annual swimming in the Neva River, St. Petersburg, Russia, on January 18, 2018, Epiphany Eve.

© SPUTNIK/ VITALY BELOUSOV
Believers take part in traditional festive bathing on January 18, 2018, Epiphany Eve, at the Church of St. Nicholas in the Izmailovo Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

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