MOSCOW, January 19. /TASS/. More than 1.8 million Russians across the country took a dip in subzero waters for the Epiphany Holiday’s religious ice baptism tradition, the press service of the Russian Emergencies Ministry said on Thursday.
“A total of 4,000 venues for swimming was prepared for the Epiphany (January 19 in Russia),” the source said. “More than 1.8 million people took part in the ceremony.”
The ritual dunks in the icy baptismal waters will continue during the daytime, as well. More than 42,400 Emergencies Services personnel have been deployed to these sites.
No emergency incidents have been reported during the baptismal events, the press service said.
Each bathing site was well-lit and equipped with special entry structures leading to the ice-holes. Organizers also set up specialized ladders for participants to descend into the water. The Emergency Services set up changing booths and offered visitors warm drinks.
Orthodox Christian Russians have partaken in the ice swimming ceremonies for centuries. Some experts say that this tradition has been in place since pagan times.