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Orthodox Believers Swim In Icy Waters On Epiphany

Ukrainians take part in Epiphany celebrations in Kyiv on January 19.
Ukrainians take part in Epiphany celebrations in Kyiv on January 19.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and an estimated 270,000 other Muscovites followed an Orthodox Church tradition and jumped into icy waters to celebrate Epiphany.

Many Orthodox Russians traditionally take three jumps into icy rivers and lakes in the early hours of January 19. The city of Moscow organized 60 bathing sites for the event this year.

The Russian Interior Ministry estimated that some 2.4 million people across Russia took part in the traditional icy dip.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin has marked the Orthodox Epiphany -- which celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River -- for many years. He declined to say exactly where Putin took his dip on January 19, only saying it was in the Moscow region.

Similar events marking the Feast of the Epiphany were also held in Ukraine, Belarus, and other parts of the former Soviet Union.

Swimming Race Marks Orthodox Epiphany In Serbia
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The epiphany tradition is also celebrated in many other countries where the Orthodox Church is prominent, including Serbia.

In Belgrade, men from were seen diving into Belgrade's freezing cold Sava River and Ciganlija Lake to retrieve a cross thrown by a church official.

The traditional swim was revived by the church 20 years ago and is gaining in popularity around the country.

Based on reporting by TASS, Interfax, and AFP

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