Listen to RFI News
Expand Player
 
Listen Download Podcast
  • Paris Live PM 14h00 - 15h00 GMT
    News bulletin 02/22 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h00 - 15h00 GMT
    News bulletin 02/21 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h00 - 15h00 GMT
    News bulletin 02/20 14h00 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.
Afp

Russians dive into icy waters on Epiphany

By AFP
media An Orthodox priest blesses water in an ice hole in the Pacific Ocean outside the far eastern Russian town of Kholmsk AFP

Crowds of Orthodox believers took the traditional plunge in freezing waters Saturday as they celebrated Epiphany across Russia, despite winter temperatures reaching -40 degrees Celsius in some regions.

Russian police estimated Saturday morning that over 2.4 million people in the country took part in Epiphany celebrations overnight, though it wasn't clear how many made the three dips in water according to custom.

Authorities cut ice and sometimes install wooden steps to ease access for worshippers wanting to descend into icy rivers and lakes and immerse themselves, to remember the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.

In a park in eastern Moscow, worshippers clad in bikinis or swimming trunks splashed and crossed themselves, shivering under the watchful eye of police and emergencies ministry workers.

"It's great, it's the best Russian tradition," Muscovite Yevgeny Goloshchapov told AFP, a towel draped across his shoulders.

The tradition in recent years has been embraced by politicians and diplomats, with President Vladimir Putin participating last year, as well as the US Ambassador in Moscow Jon Huntsman Jr.

In Russia's coldest region of Yakutia, the local governor submerged himself in the Lena river despite temperatures of -42 degrees Celsius, his office said.

In a poll published Friday a fifth of all respondents said they planned to take the Epiphany dive, up from 15 percent last year.

Ironically, some Orthodox clerics say the ice dive challenge is not actually a canonical tradition and dismiss it as a fad.

"There is a trend that external rites of big church holidays become national traditions, and the original meaning of the holiday is forgotten," said Panteleimon, a high-ranking bishop in charge of charity at the Russian Orthodox Church.

"I never dive in an ice hole," he told the Izvestia newspaper.

video-ma/bp

 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.