Monday, January 20, 2014

It's Not the Polar Bear Club: It's Orthodox Epiphany

What would it take for you to plunge yourself into icy waters? Over the weekend, more than 90,000 devout Russians visited frozen rivers and ponds across the land, peeled off clothing down to their swim suits and dipped themselves three times in icy waters, so as to imitate Jesus Christ and his baptism in the Jordan River. One fortunate difference: the Biblical account doesn't mention ice. No surprise there. . .

This exercise is part of the January 19th epiphany, an official holiday on the Russian Orthodox calendar.

These hearty believers dip themselves under the water three times, one time each for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. One man, shown in a video I encountered somewhere,  added two more dips, one of those being for Russia, as I understood him. Now that's patriotism.

Folks immerse themselves to receive forgiveness of sins and, as I was reminded by a previous post, the fewer sins one has, the less frigid the water will feel. Thus the expression, Oh the water really wasn't all that cold! Being healed of illnesses is another goal of this exercise. As one Orthodox priest explained, each January 19th, water is thought to miraculously revert to the perfect water, as it was just after the Creation, thus with healing powers..

Well, although I'm not in particular agreement with this practice, I'm in awe of what folks are willing to do in hopes of getting closer to God. Here are lots more photographs from English Russia.

Have you ever jumped into icy cold waters. . . for whatever reason? Please do share!

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