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Russian Orthodox believers mark Epiphany with icy plunge

Russian Orthodox believers mark Epiphany with icy plunge | Geography Education |
Thousands of members of the Russian Orthodox Church marked Epiphany on January 19 with a dip in freezing waters blessed by a cleric. Epiphany is a celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ and the...
Seth Dixon's insight:

Some of the photography and photo galleries of this cultural event are breathtaking--literally for those taking the plunge.  Russians cut the ice in the shape of a cross and bath in water that is blessed and considered holy.  This appears to be a religious tradition that is particularly adapted to the environmental conditions of the religious adherents (since it appears that the extreme climate plays a critical role in the activity).  Part of the practice involves sacrifice; the colder the swim, the greater the manifestation of religious devotion.    

Tags: Russia, religion, culture

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, November 5, 2014 8:24 PM

unit 3

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 15, 2014 6:44 PM

Not only is this an interesting look at the religious practices of the Russian Orthodox church but also the fact religion has made such a rebound in the former communist nation. Russia has a religious tradition spanning centuries which was almost stomped out of the country during the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Stalin and the other communist officials saw religion as both a weakness and a possible problem leading to political insurrection. Because of this they closed churches and arrested priests. After the Soviet Union's demise in the late early 90's the Orthodox Church has undergone a revitalization and is regaining it's role in Russian society.   

Rachel Phillips's curator insight, May 7, 3:12 PM

Really an interesting ritual, although some might call it a little crazy. It's great to celebrate your faith and want to show your belief in the form of an act like this, but you have to wonder if it causes any damages.  With Russia getting heavy snow and single digit to below zero temperatures, it makes you think.  If you went out into freezing water in the US, you'd probably be fine.  But, in that low of temperatures, the water must freeze to you the second you get out of the water.  Hopefully they keep medical professionals close by just in case.  Those kind of temperatures can send your body into shock.

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