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January 20, 2012
Orthodox Christians celebrate Epiphany
Thousands of Orthodox Christians plunged into icy rivers and ponds on Thursday in Russia, Belarus and elsewhere to celebrate Epiphany, cleansing themselves with water deemed holy for the day.
Christians worldwide celebrate the feast of Epiphany as Jesus' revelation to the world as the son of God. While Western Christians mark it as the day the biblical Magi are said to have arrived to view the baby Jesus, Orthodox Christians commemorate Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River.
(25 images)



Orthodox priest conducts a service at the ice hole of a lake on the eve of Russian Orthodox Epiphany in Minsk, Belarus, late Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. Orthodox Church believers celebrate Epiphany on Jan. 19. AP / Sergei Grits


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A man swims in the ice cold water of a lake on the eve of Russian Orthodox Epiphany in Minsk, Belarus, late Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. Orthodox Church believers celebrate Epiphany on Jan. 19. AP / Sergei Grits



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A Belarusian emerges from an ice hole in a traditional Epiphany celebration in Minsk, Belarus, late Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. Orthodox Church believers celebrate Epiphany on Jan. 19. AP / Sergei Grits



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A man takes a dip in the icy water of a pond on the eve of the Russian Orthodox Epiphany near the village of Pilnitsa on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. Thousands of Russian Orthodox Church followers plunged into icy rivers and ponds across the country to mark Epiphany, during which they cleanse themselves with water deemed holy for the day. Water that is blessed by a cleric on Epiphany is considered holy and pure until next year's celebration, and is believed to have special powers of protection and healing. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) AP / Sergei Grits



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A man crossing himself as he gets out of the ice cold water after plunging into it to mark Epiphany near the village of Pilnitsa in outskirts of Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Sergei Grits



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A woman takes a dip in a pond during celebrations to mark the Orthodox Epiphany near the village of Pilnitsa, on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Sergei Grits



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A man takes a dip in icy water of an ice hole in the pond in Kolomenskoe park on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Mikhail Metzel



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People gather around a bath of ice cold water as they prepare to plunge into it at the Kolomenskoe park on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Mikhail Metzel



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Russians stand in a line to enter the icy water on Epiphany at a pond in Moscow, Russia, early Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr



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A Russian man emerges from the icy water on Epiphany at a pond in Moscow, Russia, early Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr



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A man crosses himself before taking a dip in the ice hole of the pond in Kolomenskoe park on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Mikhail Metzel



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Russian Orthodox priests conduct a service on Epiphany at a pond in Tyarlevo village outside St. Petersburg, Russia, early Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Dmitry Lovetsky



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A Russian man emerges from the icy water on Epiphany at a pond in Tyarlevo village outside St. Petersburg, Russia, early Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Dmitry Lovetsky



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A Russian woman emerges from the icy water on Epiphany in Pushkin, outside St. Petersburg, Russia, late Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. AP / Dmitry Lovetsky



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A Russian man swims in the icy water of the Neva River to mark the Epiphany in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Dmitry Lovetsky



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A Russian man swims in the icy water of the Neva River to mark the Epiphany in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Dmitry Lovetsky



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A woman pours water on herself to celebrate Epiphany at the outskirts of Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, early Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Sergei Venyavsky



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Romanian, right, and Serbian Orthodox Church priests perform, marking the Orthodox Epiphany on the river Nera, between the two countries of Serbia, left bank, and Romania, near the village of Vracev Gaj, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Darko Vojinovic



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Christian Orthodox believers jump for a wooden cross into the cold water of the river Nera, between the two countries of Serbia and Romania marking Orthodox Epiphany, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Darko Vojinovic



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Marko Tomasevic, 31, center, lifts up a wooden cross, after being the first to reach it in a traditional cross retrieval race on the Danube river in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Marko Drobnjakovic



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Marko Tomasevic, 31, center, lifts up a wooden cross, after being the first to reach it in a traditional cross retrieval race on the Danube river in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. The retrieval of a cross is a traditional event that marks the Orthodox Epiphany, which according to the Julian calendar, falls on Jan. 19. AP / Marko Drobnjakovic



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Ukrainians dance during celebration to mark the Epiphany in Kiev, Ukraine,Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. Orthodox believers celebrate the holiday of the Epiphany on Jan. 19, and traditionally bathe in holes cut through thick ice on rivers and ponds to cleanse themselves with water deemed holy for the day. AP / Sergei Chuzavkov



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Georgian Orthodox believers crowd to get holy water on Epiphany at a cathedral in Tbilisi, Georgia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. Orthodox Georgians celebrate Epiphany on Jan. 19, following the old Julian calendar. Water blessed by a cleric on Epiphany is considered holy and pure until next year's celebration, and is believed to have special powers of protection and healing. AP / Shakh Aivazov



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Christian Orthodox worshippers from Ethiopia and Eritrea, bathe in the Jordan River during Epiphany celebrations at Qasr-el Yahud near Jericho, in the West Bank, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Bernat Armangue



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Christian Orthodox worshippers from Ethiopia and Eritrea, are baptized in the Jordan River during Epiphany celebrations at Qasr-el Yahud near Jericho, in the West Bank, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. AP / Bernat Armangue



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