The Epiphany

The Epiphany celebrated in Russia on January 19, marks the baptism of Jesus in the Orthodox Church. As elsewhere in the Orthodox world, the Russian Church conducts the rite of the Great Blessing of the Waters, also known as “the Great Sanctification of the Water” on that day, or the eve before.

Believing that on this day water becomes holy and imbued with special powers, Russians cut holes in the ice of lakes and rivers, often in the shape of the cross, to bathe in the freezing water. Honouring the Holy Trinity participants dip themselves three times under the water in order to wash away their sins from the past year and to experience a sense of spiritual rebirth.