As part of its yearly tradition to celebrate Epiphany Day, Orthodox Christians in Russia and Ukraine celebrated the occasion on Tuesday by bathing or taking dips in icy rivers and ponds to mark the baptism of Jesus Christ.
According to reports, believers plunged in icy water in holes cut through thick ice on rivers and ponds usually in the form of a Christian or Orthodox cross to cleanse themselves. Because the day symbolised the baptism of Jesus Christ, water is reportedly deemed holy for Epiphany Day. Regardless of the weather, Orthodox Christians visit lakes, ponds and rivers to take a dip.
To mark the occasion, around midnight on Epiphany Day, believers take a dip in icy waters three times to honour the Holy Trinity after a priest says a prayer, according to the Mirror UK.
On Tuesday, despite the freezing temperature in the air and water, a group of young men and women in Ukraine plunged in the Dnipro River dressed in bikinis and bathing shorts, reports said.
In Russia, thousands gathered to cross the country, despite some areas seeing temperatures near -30 degrees, to "cleanse" themselves in the water on Epiphany day
Russian Liberal Democratic Party Leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky earlier led the celebration of Epiphany Day in central Moscow's Revolution Square, where tubs had been filled with ice water to simulate an ice bath, according to the Daily Mail.
While Russians follow the Julian Calendar and celebrate the occasion every Jan. 19, other Orthodox Christians such as the Greeks, the Bulgarians and the Czech, celebrate the holiday on Jan. 6.
"There are some hardy swimmers who don their swimsuits for an early morning cold drip every year in the Serpentine of London's Hyde Park on Christmas Day,'' according to Mirror UK. "It's a freezing adventure with temperatures often dipping below zero at the time of year.''
The weather in St. Petersburg and Moscow ranges between -10 to -20 with some of the eastern cities having temperature as low as -30 Celsius, reports say.