From the Pacific in the east, to the Urals in the west, hardy Russians display their religious feelings - and bravery.
Young woman takes a cold bath in Khabarovsk. Picture: DVhab
Children aged 4 to 6 at a kindergarten in Krasnoyarsk led the way submerging themselves in cold water to mark Epiphany, the baptism of Jesus, on a day which sank to minus 15C. The six year olds screamed as they emptied the buckets, then ran indoors.
Elsewhere in the city, residents had plunged into an ice hole on the Yenisei River deep in the night. Brunette Julia, 36, a realtor, said: 'It's warm, comfortable, still not as cold as minus 30 outside. Just gorgeous.'
Krasnoyarsk residents had plunged into an ice hole on the Yenisey River deep in the night. In the morning children in local kindergarten also submerged themselves in cold water to mark Epiphany. Pictures: Artem Lents, Yakov Kalinin
A traffic jam appeared as locals rushed to bathe themselves, a tradition dating from the tsarist era that was frowned upon in Soviet times.
Our pictures also show residents of Yakutsk - the world's coldest city - taking the plunge into ice holes in temperatures of minus 34C.
The mayor Aisen Nikolayev, a veteran of such events, was first into the water. 'In the morning I always go to church, pray, and partake. After bathing I feel light and joy in my soul,' he explained.
A warming tent covered the ice hole to protect from the harsh cold, although it was 11C 'warmer' than a year earlier.
In Siberia's biggest city, Novosibirsk, there was only one 'official' ice-hole on the 'Ob Sea'. Pictures: Alexander Oschepkov, Maria Morsina/NGS.ru
In Norilsk, it was minus 32C but here worshippers in the Arctic did without the tent as they bathed in the open air in Lake Dolgoye, heated by warm water from local plants.
In Siberia's biggest city, Novosibirsk, there was only one 'official' ice-hole on the 'Ob Sea', a vast reservoir on the Ob River. Here, too, there were traffic jams from people keen to partake in this tradition on Epiphany night.
A warming tent covered the ice hole in Yakutsk to protect from the harsh cold. In Norilsk at minus 32C people bathed in the open air in Lake Dolgoye, heated by warm water from local plants. Pictures: YSIA, News.Ykt, Nikolai Schipko
On the Pacific coast, several hundred people dived into ice holes in regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Kamchatka peninsula. The city administration provided hot tea for all swimmers. And warm tents for undressing were provided by the Emergencies Ministry.
In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, capital of Salkhalin island, the bathing started at midnight, with almost 2,000 people flocking to Lake Verkhneye. Sakhalin governor Oleg Kozhemyako plunged into the water with the air temperature at minus 6C.
Tents were also needed over the ice in the Selenga River in Ulan-Ude, as the thermometer hit minus 30C. Pictures: Baikal-Daily
He said: 'On this day, what happens is believed to be a sacrament of purification of the soul and the body with water, which acquires special properties. The Orthodox people adhere to this tradition, some plunging into the ice hole, while others just bathe at home. I want to congratulate the believers and wish you all happiness, health and prosperity!'
Viktoria Ovchinnikova travelled 44 kilometres to plunge into the ice hole. 'What you experience at the time of plunging is beyond words,' she said. 'It is a real delight.'
In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the bathing started at midnight, with almost 2,000 people flocking to Lake Verkhneye together with the governor Oleg Kozhemyako. Picture: Sergei Krasnoukhov, Kam24
In Vladivostok, locals cooled off in an ice-hole in Amur Bay. But in Khabarovsk the waters of the Amur River were deemed to dirty for the ritual, so locals doused themselves in local lakes.
Further west, tents were also needed over the ice in the Selenga River in Ulan-Ude, as the thermometer hit minus 30C.
Tens of thousands of emergency staff were on duty to prevent deal with health issues during this remarkable and solemn night. Elsewhere many Russians improvised cutting their own holes - sometimes shaped as a cross - in the ice.
In Vladivostok, locals cooled off in an ice-hole in Amur Bay. But in Khabarovsk the waters of the Amur River were deemed to dirty for the ritual, so locals doused themselves in local lakes. Pictures: Maria Bogdanova/PrimaMedia, DVhab
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