Monday, Dec 18 2017
All Cities
Choose Your City
'Switzerland would fit into Tyumen region in Siberia seven times. But it doesnt't want to. '
anekdot.ru

Taking the plunge in icy Siberian waters, locals mark Orthodox Epiphany

By The Siberian Times reporter
19 January 2017

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.'

Epiphany in Krasnoyarsk


Epiphany in Krasnoyarsk


Epiphany in Krasnoyarsk


Epiphany in Krasnoyarsk

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.

Epiphany in Novosibirsk


Epiphany in Novosibirsk


Epiphany in Novosibirsk


Epiphany in Novosibirsk


Epiphany in Novosibirsk


Epiphany in Novosibirsk

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. 

Epiphany in Yakutsk


Aisen Nikolaev


Epiphany in Yakutsk


Epiphany in Norilsk


Epiphany in Norilsk

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. 

Epiphany in Ulan-Ude


Epiphany in Ulan-Ude


Epiphany in Ulan-Ude


Epiphany in Ulan-Ude

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.'

Oleg Kozhemyako


Epiphany on Sakhalin


Epiphany on Kamchatka


Epiphany on Kamchatka


Epiphany on Kamchatka

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

Epiphany in Vladivostok


Epiphany in Vladivostok


Epiphany in Vladivostok


Epiphany in Khabarovsk


Epiphany in Khabarovsk


Epiphany in Khabarovsk

Comments (3)

we had the same more or less around the corner from where i live and where we go walking the dog every day. on the Moskva river in Strogino.- half naked people,no respect - as Lazar writes, for sure it is not. after all, we go swimming like this all summer long. and no one complaints. should we now get into the cold water with shoes and pants and anorak,THAT for sure would pull us under and let us out anymore. and how to quickly dry up after climbing out? most of the people who were there are regulars, who take to the water not only in summer. also in spring and fall, when the river is still cold and no one else is there. they for sure do not know what is the flue. and never have a cold. and if it is for fun for a few people, so be it. HE will not turn away.
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
20/01/2017 18:37
5
1
When looking at what is moral and immoral world around us today and we see a society that is very free and open, more open and free then previous generations, previous generation what was moral and immoral was easy because it was black and white issue because the was no questions involved, today we have this questions. When I look at what is moral and immoral today I look at religious scriptures and the characters that are in it. Dressing conservatively is one of the rules of morality, by trying not to live your life in a sexually provocative way. The pictures that are taking here of half naked people and put on internet for everyone to see is immoral.
Lazar, Moscow
20/01/2017 12:23
2
11
Respect !!
Richard van den Bosch, Amsterdam , Holland
20/01/2017 01:52
12
0
1

Add your comment

We welcome a healthy debate, but do not accept offensive or abusive comments. Please also read 'Siberian Times' Privacy Policy

Name

Town/Country

Add your comments

The views expressed in the comments above are those of our readers. 'Siberian Times' reserves the right to pre-moderate some comments.

Control code*

Type the code

* obligatory


Features

Business

The Bank of Russia official exchange rates of foreign currencies
EUR69.09USD58.69GBP78.34Other...