Russian leader Vladimir Putin takes just about every opportunity to go shirtless for the cameras, but Friday was the first time he publicly participated in the frigid dip that is a ritual of the feast of the Epiphany.
He was among hundreds of thousands of celebrants who plunged into chilly water at sites across Russia and Eastern Europe for the holiday celebrated 12 days after the Orthodox Christmas.
Jan. 14, 2018: Anastasia Gruzdeva poses for selfie as the temperature dropped to about -58 degrees Fahrenheit in Yakutsk, Russia. (sakhalife.ru photo via AP)
Putin’s pool was reportedly 21 degrees Fahrenheit, but the government-run Channel One reported that some hardy souls took the plunge in minus-58 degree waters in remote Yakutia. Temperatures there have been so cold that eyelashes frost over upon exposure to outside air.
“Epiphany” is from the Greek word for revelation, referring to Jesus’ manifestation to the world. The Orthodox celebration ties the event to Jesus’ baptism — hence the river swimming.
In western Europe and parts of the United States, Epiphany (or Three Kings Day) is celebrated January 6 and commemorates the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus.
Tradition has it that Christmas decorations should be removed on the eve of Epiphany, also called Twelfth Night. If you miss that deadline, you must keep them up until February 2, which is Candlemas (as well as Groundhog Day).
Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World