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Orthodox Epiphany Gets Chilly Reception

Orthodox worshipers in Russia, Belarus, and elsewhere celebrated Epiphany -- marking the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist and the beginning of his ministry -- with ritual plunges in subfreezing temperatures around midnight on January 18-19. Honoring an old Russian tradition, in many places bathers dip themselves in cross-shaped holes cut in ice over lakes and rivers. (11 PHOTOS)

Believers immerse themselves in a pool outside an Orthodox church in eastern Russia with temperatures around minus-20 degrees Celsius. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Epiphany on January 19 in line with the Julian calendar. (Reuters/Yuri Maltsev)
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Believers immerse themselves in a pool outside an Orthodox church in eastern Russia with temperatures around minus-20 degrees Celsius. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Epiphany on January 19 in line with the Julian calendar. (Reuters/Yuri Maltsev)

A cross-shaped bathing hole is cleared in the ice at Sports Harbor in the center of Vladivostok, Russia ahead of Epiphany. (Vitaliy Ankov/RIA Novosti)
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A cross-shaped bathing hole is cleared in the ice at Sports Harbor in the center of Vladivostok, Russia ahead of Epiphany. (Vitaliy Ankov/RIA Novosti)

Russians gather to bathe in the Black Sea to mark Epiphany in the southern city of Sochi. (Reuters/Nina Zotina)
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Russians gather to bathe in the Black Sea to mark Epiphany in the southern city of Sochi. (Reuters/Nina Zotina)

Not everyone ventures into the cold. These worshipers mark the holiday inside the Church of the Nativity of Christ in Southern Butovo, Moscow. (RIA-Novosti/Alexsey Nichukchin)
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Not everyone ventures into the cold. These worshipers mark the holiday inside the Church of the Nativity of Christ in Southern Butovo, Moscow. (RIA-Novosti/Alexsey Nichukchin)

A plunge into near-freezing waters as an Orthodox priest blesses the bather on the eve of Epiphany in Pilnitsa, Belarus. (AFP/Viktor Drachev)
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A plunge into near-freezing waters as an Orthodox priest blesses the bather on the eve of Epiphany in Pilnitsa, Belarus. (AFP/Viktor Drachev)

A man wades into an icy spring to mark Epiphany, about 45 kilometers east of Almaty, in Kazakhstan. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov)
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A man wades into an icy spring to mark Epiphany, about 45 kilometers east of Almaty, in Kazakhstan. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov)

A woman is helped into the waters of the Bazaikha River after midnight, with temperatures about minus-20 degrees Celsius, in a surburb of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. (Reuters/Ilya Naymushin)
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A woman is helped into the waters of the Bazaikha River after midnight, with temperatures about minus-20 degrees Celsius, in a surburb of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. (Reuters/Ilya Naymushin)

A man bottles holy water from a pool under an Orthodox cross made of ice during a ceremony to celebrate Epiphany in Tyumen, Russia. (Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko)
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A man bottles holy water from a pool under an Orthodox cross made of ice during a ceremony to celebrate Epiphany in Tyumen, Russia. (Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko)

A midnight dip in the Minsk region of Belarus.
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A midnight dip in the Minsk region of Belarus.

Taking the dip in Chelyabinsk. (Aleksandr Kondratuk/RIA Novosti)
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Taking the dip in Chelyabinsk. (Aleksandr Kondratuk/RIA Novosti)

A man reacts as he immerses himself in a pool in Minsk. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)
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A man reacts as he immerses himself in a pool in Minsk. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)

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