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In pictures: Russian Christians plunge into icy water to mark Epiphany

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By AP
A man bathes in water during a traditional Epiphany celebration as the temperature dropped to -24°C near the Achairsky monastery outside Siberian city of Omsk, Jan. 19, 2021.
A man bathes in water during a traditional Epiphany celebration as the temperature dropped to -24°C near the Achairsky monastery outside Siberian city of Omsk, Jan. 19, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Evgeniy Sofiychuk

Russian Orthodox Christians dipped into icy waters on Tuesday to mark the eve of Epiphany, ending their 12-day Christmas period.

Most people take the plunge at midnight or on the day of the feast itself, which falls on January 19.

AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
A Russian Orthodox priest blesses the icy water on Epiphany at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Ostankino near TV Tower in Moscow, Russia, Jan. 18, 2022.AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

But some were seen braving the ritual the day before Epiphany, submerging themselves into holes carved into ice to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ.

AP Photo/Sergei Rusanov
Orthodox priests bless the ice water of the Tura river during a traditional Epiphany celebration in -5°C temperature at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Tyumen, Jan. 18, 2022.AP Photo/Sergei Rusanov

"Our ancestors have been always dipping into water on this holiday," said Anton Maevsky, after emerging from an ice hole.

AP Photo/Tatiana Gasich
A man helps his child bathe in the icy waters of the Lena River during a traditional Epiphany celebration as the temperature dropped to -56°C, outside Yakutsk, Jan. 19, 2022.AP Photo/Tatiana Gasich

In Yekaterinburg, authorities were limiting the number of people around the holes to 40, for safety reasons.

Not all Orthodox Christian churches celebrate Epiphany on the same day.

AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky
A Russian Orthodox believer dips in the icy water during a traditional Epiphany celebration in Kronstadt Navy base, outside St. Petersburg, Jan. 19, 2022.AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky

Unlike Russia, Ukraine and Serbia, which celebrate on January 19, the churches in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania mark the feast on January 6.

Some Western Christian churches celebrate the religious holiday as Three Kings' Day, which marks the visit of the Magi, or Three Wise Men, to Baby Jesus.