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19 Jan, 2012 04:48

Washing away sins: Believers take ice-cold Epiphany dip

It may be the middle of a freezing winter here in Russia but that's not stopping the determined from taking a dip. A midnight immersion in water on the 18/19 January is the traditional way to celebrate the Orthodox holiday of Epiphany.

The date is considered holy by Christians, because on this very day Jesus is believed to have been baptized.Russians believe that a priest can bless a river or a lake on this particular night and turn all of its water into holy water. Immersing oneself in it washes away all sins, it is said.Since the holy day is marked in the middle of winter, in practice it usually means cutting ice, usually in a cross-shaped hole, and dipping into freezing water.RT’s brave Thabang Motsei got a first-hand taste of how it feels.