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Orthodox Christians brave an icy dip to mark Epiphany

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Worshippers across Russia and Eastern Europe have been braving icy waters for Epiphany, one of the most important holidays in the Orthodox Christian calendar.

Celebrated on 19 January, Epiphany commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.

A priest conducts an Epiphany ceremony with a worshipper

To mark the event many Orthodox Christians submerge themselves in holes of icy water. They may dip themselves three times in the water to honour the Holy Trinity.

An Orthodox priest blesses water in Svyatoye, in the outskirts of the Russian capital Moscow

It is believed the tradition brings good health to worshippers and washes them of their sins. Above, an Orthodox priest blesses water in Svyatoye, in the outskirts of Russia’s capital, Moscow.

Media captionSee how organisers in Russia are preparing icy holes for Epiphany

Worshippers believe all water becomes holy on Epiphany. Some also think that freezing water can have beneficial health effects.

A man takes a dip in icy waters of a lake
Serbian Orthodox faithfuls jump into the cold water of the Sava river in Belgrade

Serbian Orthodox worshippers jump into the cold water of the Sava river in Belgrade.

A woman takes a dip during celebrations of Orthodox Epiphany in Omsk

In this picture, a woman takes a dip in the Russian city of Omsk, where temperatures have dropped below -10C (14F).

An inmate takes a dip at a high-security penal colony in Omsk, Russia

These prison guards watched as an inmate submerged himself at a high-security penal colony in Omsk.

Serbian Orthodox faithfuls pose for a photo

Worshippers pose for a photo after swimming in Belgrade’s Sava River.

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