Thursday, January 19, 2006

We Orthodox are a hardy lot

Russian Orthodox believers, help Aleksandra, 11, to get out of ice cold water after plunging her to mark Orthodox Epiphany in the town of Sestroretsk, 30 km (19 miles) west of St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006. A cold snap coincided with Thursday's Russian Orthodox holiday of Epiphany, and many kept up an annual ritual by jumping into holes cut into thick ice on rivers and ponds to cleanse themselves with water deemed holy for the day.The tradition imitates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. The temperature in Sestroretsk on Thursday reached -23 C (-15 F). (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

Today is Theophany, which commemorates the baptism of the Lord, and so on this day we bless the waters. Some people go for a swim for a blessing. In Greece, this is not a particularly hard thing to do this time of year. In Russia, it takes true believers.